PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland head coach Jim Sollars, who is in his 28th year at the helm of the Pilots, announced on Monday he will retire following the 2013-14 season. Sollars has compiled nearly 400 wins with the Pilots and he has won 560 games overall as a collegiate head coach.
“It’s been a wonderful experience and relationship between my family and the University of Portland,” Sollars said. “My wife got her masters here, three of my four kids went to school here and we’ve just been blessed to be a part of the university community.
“My wife always told me that I would know when it was time to move on, and I think that the time and effort that this job requires now, especially in regards to recruiting, is probably a little more physical and emotional energy than I’m able to provide. I also wanted to leave with a really good group of kids on the roster and this team is truly a wonderful group.”
The Pilots are currently 9-7 and are fresh off a win against then-No. 24 San Diego last Wednesday night, Portland’s first win against a ranked opponent in more than 10 years.
“Jim has been not only a fine coach – honest and responsible, attentive to his students as young women first and athletes second,” university president E. William Beauchamp said, “but he has been a fine teacher, both of basketball and of hard work toward goals. It’s no accident that his players so often go on to remarkable careers as teachers of various sorts themselves. We will miss Jim’s humor and work ethic, his wry wit and competitive fire, but most of all I think we will miss a very fine professor here on The Bluff.”
Sollars, who also served the university as a history professor during his first 11 years on The Bluff, has reached a pair of coaching milestones this season. Portland’s victory against Seattle on Nov. 24 was career win No. 400 at the NCAA Division I level for Sollars, and the game at Portland State on Dec. 21 was his 800th career game as head coach of the Pilots.
Sollars ranks second all-time in West Coast Conference wins (166) and he’s been named league coach of the year five times. He has won 383 games at UP, 402 victories overall at the NCAA Division I level, and posted a 560-503 career record as a collegiate head coach.
Sollars came to UP in 1986 with 10 years of previous head coaching experience. He led his 1987-88 team to a 17-11 record, a second-place WCC finish and garnered his first WCC Coach of the Year award. Sollars claimed the school’s first WCC Basketball Championship (men or women) in 1991-92 and he was again named the WCC Coach of the Year, making him the first coach in the WCC to win the award twice.
Prior to UP, Sollars coached at Wenatchee Valley Community (1976-83) and Portland State (1983-86). His Wenatchee program won six Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) regional championships and compiled a 154-25 record (.860). Besides building a basketball dynasty, Sollars was also the dean of WVCC’s social sciences department for two years and its athletics director for one year.