Men's Basketball / Inducted Oct. 11, 2013
A pioneering mentor that ushered in a new era of basketball at Cal State Fullerton, Head Coach Bobby Dye brought his successful brand of coaching from the junior college ranks and engineered one of the greatest runs that the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has ever seen.
A Los Angeles native who played collegiately at Fullerton Junior College and Idaho State, Dye parlayed a 115-50 overall record and a California junior college state championship in 1972 at Santa Monica College into the head job at Cal State Fullerton, helping the Titans transition from the Division II level to Division I in 1974.
Inheriting a program that had endured nine-straight losing campaigns, Dye set about resurrecting the Fullerton program, winning 16 games in his first season in 1973-74 and posting six consecutive winning seasons from 1973-79 -- a mark that remains the best in school history. He led Cal State Fullerton to a tie atop the PCAA standings in 1976 -- the school’s first conference title in men’s basketball in only the program’s second year in the league and at the Division I level -- and finished among the top four in the league in five of his six seasons.
However, Dye will best be known for the Titans’ remarkable run through the NCAA Tournament in 1978, leading an unheralded “Cal State Who” squad into the finals of the NCAA West Regional in Albuquerque, N.M. The Titans opened the postseason with an upset of No. 4-ranked New Mexico in Tempe, Ariz., by the score of 90-85, a game later recognized by USA Today as, at one point, one of the greatest 63 games in NCAA Tournament history. Undaunted, Fullerton followed that performance up with yet another upset, this time over top-10 ranked San Francisco.
Those victories set up a West Regional final against No. 5-ranked Arkansas squad, which had pulled an upset of its own, knocking out No. 2 UCLA in the previous round. The Titans led by a point with 1:42 to play and trailed by only a point with 14 seconds to play, but had the ball knocked away in the final possession to secure the win and a berth in the “Final Four” for the Razorbacks.
Dye finished his career with a 109-78 record at the helm of the Titans in 1980, ranking fourth in school history in coaching wins. He later coached at CSU Bakersfield, helping the Roadrunners to NCAA tournament berths in 1982 and 1983 before leaving to coach at Boise State, where he led the Broncos to six postseason berths and a 213-133 overall record in 12 seasons.