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Former Norfolk State basketball coach Mel Coleman passes away

Norfolk StateFormer Norfolk State basketball coach Mel Coleman passed away on July 1, two days after suffering a heart attack.

The West Virginia native spent eight seasons with the NSU men’s program during the 1990s, seven as an assistant coach and one as interim head coach.

Coleman arrived at Norfolk State under head coach Mike Bernard for the 1991-1992 season. He spent two years as assistant coach and five as associate head coach under Bernard, leading the program to a successful run at the Division II level. He then spent one season as interim head coach in 1998-99, NSU’s second year at the Division I level.

While an assistant coach, Coleman helped lead the program to the CIAA title in 1996 and three NCAA Tournament appearances. NSU advanced to the Elite Eight in 1994 and then to the Final Four in 1995. It marked the fourth and fifth times, respectively, that the program made an Elite Eight appearance at the D-II level, and the only time it advanced to a Final Four.

In 1998-1999 as interim head coach, Coleman led Norfolk State to a 15-12 overall record, 11-7 in the MEAC. It marked the only winning overall record for NSU during its first 10 years as a D-I program. He coached numerous all-conference players during his eight total years at NSU, including D-II All-American Corey Williams and MEAC Player of the Year Damian Woolfolk during his one season as head coach.

Coleman was a graduate of Wheeling Central High School in West Virginia. He competed collegiately at Bluefield State College and later Edward Waters College. He received his bachelor’s degree from Edward Waters in 1967.

In addition to his time at NSU, Coleman coached for years at the high school level in Ohio and West Virginia. He was involved with numerous basketball camps during his more than 50 years in education.

He also played semi-pro ball with the New York Astros and had a pro football tryout with the Dallas Cowboys.

Visitation and funeral were held late last week in his hometown of Weirton, W.Va. Coleman was 77 years old.

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