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Merrimack's Joe Gallo is the recipient of the 2020 Coach John McLendon award, which is presented annually to the top top head coach in all of collegiate basketball (Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and JUCO).

March 26, 2020


BOSTON, MA  -- Merrimack’s Joe Gallo is the recipient of the 2019-20 Coach John McLendon award.

Gallo led Merrimack to an historic season.  The Warriors won the outright Northeast Conference regular season Championship, becoming the first program ever to win an outright conference regular season crown in its first season reclassifying to Division I.   
After falling one game below .500 in early January, Merrimack went on a season-best nine-game win streak to take control of the conference race. The Warriors would finish 14-4 in the NEC and 20-11 overall. It’s the first time in school history that the Warriors have posted three consecutive 20-win seasons. 
Gallo’s team first gained national attention with an early November win at Northwestern.  It’s the first time a reclassifying school’s first division I win came against a Power Five program

The Coach John McLendon award is presented annually to the top collegiate head coach. The award encompasses Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and JUCO.

A trailblazer and one of the true pioneers of the game, McLendon became the first African American coach to win an integrated national championship. His team went on to win the NAIA Division I Men's Tournament in 1957, 1958 and 1959, making him the first coach in history to win three consecutive NAIA championships.

In 1962 he became the first African American head coach in a major professional league (ABL) with the Cleveland Pipers. In 1966 he became the first African American head coach of predominantly-white university, when he took over the Cleveland State program. He led the team to their best record in school history.

In 1969, McLendon was hired by the Denver Rockets and became the first African American head coach in the American Basketball Association. After a brief stint with the Rockets, McLendon ended his 25-year professional coaching career with a winning percentage of .760 and a lifetime career average of 523 victories and 165 losses.








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