GETTYSBURG, Pa. – After a tremendous 45-year coaching career, Gettysburg College men's basketball and men's golf head coach George Petrie will retire at the end of the academic year, Assistant Vice President for Athletics and Development Officer David Wright has announced.
Petrie has spent his entire 29-year head-coaching career at Gettysburg, where he is the longest-tenured and all-time winningest men's basketball coach in school history. He took a struggling program and turned it into a winner, leading the Bullets to three Centennial Conference (CC) titles and all five of the program's NCAA Division III tournament appearances. Under his trademark Princeton Offense, he has produced a career record of 394-345, including a 232-163 mark in Centennial Conference play.
In 24 years as men's golf coach, Petrie has helped the Bullets to three CC titles as well four runner-up finishes. He coached the program's lone All-American in 1994.
A national search for Petrie's successor will begin in the coming weeks.
"I would like to thank former athletic directors Bob Hulton and Chuck Winters, as well as Dave Wright, for the wonderful opportunity to work at Gettysburg College," said Petrie. "It has always been a great place to work because it's collegial, it's collaborative, and they do things the right way.
"The best part about my job has always been the interaction with the student-athletes and helping them learn, compete, and grow as individuals as well as players," added Petrie. "My job has never been about just winning – it's also been about growth and development. The fun part is seeing where they end up in life."
"George Petrie has patrolled the sidelines of Bream Gym for nearly three decades," said Wright. "Hundreds of young men have had the opportunity to grow and develop under his tutelage. George has been able to use basketball as a platform for teaching young men about life. He has always placed more importance on the academic, social, and career development of the individual rather than on their ability to play the game. He has been a great example to countless student-athletes and athletic department staff members over his illustrious career."
Petrie arrived at Gettysburg in 1989 and inherited a men's basketball program that had not won a conference title of any kind in 51 years and had never appeared in a national championship tournament. That all changed in 1995-96, when he led the Bullets to an 18-9 record and the program's first appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament. Two years later, Gettysburg kicked off a run of 14 consecutive non-losing seasons, which remains a Centennial Conference record.
In 2000-01, Petrie led the Bullets to a 17-10 record and the program's first Centennial Conference men's basketball title. The team's 68-59 victory at Muhlenberg also marked the team's first conference championship since 1939. In addition, the Bullets started another tremendous run that season, as it was the first of 11 straight years of qualifying for the Centennial Conference playoffs, which is still a conference record as well.
One year later, Gettysburg posted one of its top seasons in team history while establishing several additional program milestones. Finishing with a record of 20-7, the Bullets broke the school record for victories while becoming the first Gettysburg team to win 20 games in a season. In addition, the Orange and Blue became the first men's basketball team to win back-to-back Centennial Conference titles when it defeated No. 16 Franklin & Marshall 50-47 on the road. The Bullets would close out the year with one last "first" when the Bullets hosted an NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament game for the first time in team history.
From 2007-10, Petrie directed his team to another outstanding run in which it reached the Centennial Conference championship game three years in a row. In 2007-08, Gettysburg posted its winningest season in school history at 24-5 and achieved the program's fourth NCAA tournament appearance. The Bullets would go on to record their first two NCAA tournament victories in program history, beating Salem State and Elms at home to reach to the Sweet 16 round. In addition, that team did not lose from Jan. 5 through March 1, setting a team record for consecutive wins in a season with 11.
The Bullets finished 18-9 under Petrie in 2008-09, when they captured the Centennial Conference championship with a 73-65 victory at Franklin & Marshall and played in the national tournament for the second-straight season. In 2009-10, despite losing four starters from the previous year, his team made its third-straight appearance in the CC title game and finished 15-11.
At the individual level, Petrie has coached 20 All-Centennial Conference or All-Middle Atlantic Conference men's basketball performers as well as six all-region selections. He also coached just the second men's basketball All-American at Gettysburg and the first in 47 years when Andrew Powers '10, the Bullets' all-time leading scorer, captured NABC Third Team honors in 2008-09.
Petrie ranks third in Centennial Conference history in both career victories and Centennial Conference wins, and his 13 CC tournament victories ranks second in conference history. Entering the season, he was also 35th in career wins among current Division III men's basketball head coaches.
Under Petrie, the Bullets have gained extensive traveling experience and have visited Europe five times. The team will make its sixth international trip this spring when it travels to Italy. In addition, Gettysburg has competed in California during the 1998-99, 2001-02, 2004-05, 2007-08, and 2010-11 seasons.
During Petrie's tenure, the Bullets have twice received the prestigious National Schoenfeld Sportsmanship Award given by the Collegiate Basketball Officials Association to recognize "the highest degree of sportsmanship, character, and ethics."
In 2014, Petrie was portrayed by renowned actor Beau Bridges in the movie 1000 to 1: The Cory Weissman Story. It was based on the inspiring real-life story of Weissman '12, who overcame a life-threatening stroke to score a point on Gettysburg's Senior Day game versus Washington College on Feb. 11, 2012.
On the golf course, Petrie served as an assistant coach at Gettysburg from 1990-92 and as co-head coach from 1993-2001. He was elevated to head coach prior to the 2001-02 campaign and promptly led the Bullets to their first Centennial Conference title in seven years, beating out McDaniel by 16 strokes.
The Bullets also claimed runner-up honors at the Centennial Conference Championship in 2001, 2004, 2011, and 2016. Petrie has helped coach 15 golfers to All-Centennial Conference honors, including four who have combined for six conference titles. As co-head coach in 1994, Petrie helped lead the Bullets to the program's first appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship, where Guillermo Nakada '96 became the program's first All-America after finishing 18th overall.
Before coming to Gettysburg, Petrie served as an assistant men's basketball coach at Bucknell University from 1975-89. He played a major role in the success of the Bison, who won the East Coast Conference (ECC) title and made the first two NCAA Division I tournament appearances in school history in 1987 and 1989. Petrie also helped lead Bucknell to four ECC regular-season championships and in 1983-84, the Bison posted a then-program-best record of 24-5.
A native of Springfield, Pa., Petrie is a 1972 graduate of Lebanon Valley College. As an undergraduate, he twice captained the Flying Dutchmen basketball team, leading LVC to the Middle Atlantic Conference championship during his junior year. Following graduation, he had a free-agent try-out with the Chicago Bulls of the NBA before starting his coaching career at Haverford High School in 1972. After one year, he went to the University of Utah, where he earned a master's degree and was a graduate assistant.
Petrie has been inducted into the hall of fame at both Springfield High School and Lebanon Valley College. He and his wife, Conni, are the parents of two children and two grandchildren.