Beloved basketball coach, Charlie Spoonhour, dies at 72

Charlie Spoonhour (left) discusses his decision to retire as the coach of the Saint Louis University men’s basketball team on the KFNS radio show on March 5, 1999. Spoonhour passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 1.File Photo by: Erik Lunsford / The University News

Charlie Spoonhour (left) discusses his decision to retire as the coach of the Saint Louis University men’s basketball team on the KFNS radio show on March 5, 1999. Spoonhour passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 1.File Photo by: Erik Lunsford / The University News

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Charlie Spoonhour (left) discusses his decision to retire as the coach of the Saint Louis University men’s basketball team on the KFNS radio show on March 5, 1999. Spoonhour passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 1.File Photo by: Erik Lunsford / The University News

Legendary Saint Louis University men’s basketball head coach, Charlie Spoonhour, affectionately nicknamed “Spoon” died on Wednesday, Feb.1 in Chapel Hill, NC, after a long battle with a lung disease. He was 72.

Spoonhour was head coach at SLU from 1992-1999. He posted an overall record of 122-90 while at SLU.  Prior to arriving at SLU, he was the head coach at Missouri State University.

“Charlie Spoonhour was a man of great character and integrity. I will always remember his positive personality, his energetic spirit and his deep devotion to his players. Coach Spoonhour left an indelible mark on our basketball program, on our university and on the City of St. Louis. Spoon was — and forever will be — a Billiken in every sense of the word. We all will miss him,” President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., said to Saint Louis Athletics.

After a 12-17 record his first year, Spoonhour quickly turned around the 1993-1994 Billikens basketball program to 23-6 record with SLU’s first NCAA basketball tournament appearance since 1957. That year, The U.S. Basketball Writers Association named him national Coach of the Year.

Spoonhour would have his 1994-1995 team return to the NCAA tournament. He advanced his team to the second round of the tournament that year.

In 1997-1998, Spoonhour directed the Bills to another NCAA tournament berth. The team was led that year by future NBA first-round draft pick Larry Hughes. That season, the Bills were in the top 10 nationally for attendance. The Bills lost in the second round that year to the eventual national champion, the Kentucky Wildcats.

Spoonhour retired from SLU in 1999.

“There is just a point in your life when it’s time to get off the merry-go-round. For me that time feels like right now,” Spoonhour said to The University News in 1999 upon his retirement.

However, Spoonhour briefly returned to a head coach’s position at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas from 2001-2004.

After he retired from UNLV, Spoonhour was a basketball analyst for the Missouri Valley Conference and the Oklahoma Sooners network.

Spoonhour was known for the development of a type of basketball known as “Spoonball.” “Spoonball,” according to the Spoonhour and other sports media members, described Spoonhour’s teams by their fiestiness and reliance on fundamentals. His teams were also known for their sharp 3-point shooting.

According to those who knew him, Spoonhour was notable for his folksy charm and quick wit as much as he was known for his coaching.

“Charlie Spoonhour was a great Billiken in every sense. His commitment to his student-athletes, the University community and the St. Louis region helped energize the program like none other.

“Charlie was an unbelievably positive force in the history of our department. We are so proud that he will forever be associated with Billiken Basketball,” Director of Athletics Chris May said to Saint Louis Athletics.

“Charlie Spoonhour will be remembered by his players and fans most of all for his authenticity. He was genuinely a great guy who cared about the players and the people in his life. Charlie was a fantastic coach, a wonderful teacher of the game and a competitor extraordinaire. He was a ‘coaches’ coach,’ and will be missed by one and all,” Men’s Basketball Head Coach Rick Majerus said to Saint Louis Athletics.

Spoonhour was living in Chapel Hill since 2010 after receiving a lung transplant. He had been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis — a scarring of the lungs.

Spoonhour is survived by his wife, Vicki, and two sons, Jay and Stephen.

His son Jay told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his father had died peacefully surrounded by his family.

Funeral arrangements are pending. There was a moment of silence before the  men’s basketball game last night against St. Bonaventure.

“He’s a great guy. His legacy will be his children. He had a wonderful wife. He was a genuine guy and a fantastic competitor,” Majerus said.