Legendary New Mexico coach Norm Ellenberger died in his sleep over the wekeend at the age of 83 after a series of heart ailments, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
The school released a brief statement shortly before the Lobos’ win against New Mexico State on Sunday.
“The team is saddened to hear of the passing of Norm Ellenberger. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” the release read.
In seven seasons as New Mexico’s coach, Ellenberger had a 134-62 record with two WAC titles (1974, 1978) and two NCAA tournament appearances.
“He was so intense, and he just loved to play for the crowds,” former Lobo star Marvin Johnson said of Ellenberger, via the Albuquerque Journal. “It was just a different time, and that Pit was crazy.”
Ellenberger’s intensity energized the New Mexico fan base, earning the nickname “Stormin Norman” and turning the The Pit into one of the most notable venues in college basketball.
Ellenberger, last an assistant coach for the New York Liberty in 2012, led New Mexico on a brilliant run of success in the 1970’s but was dismissed in 1979 when the FBI began investigating the team’s recruiting activities. The NCAA would later find 34 violations of recruiting rules and New Mexico with a three-year postseason ban in the scandal that would become affectionately known as “Logogate.”
Never a head coach again after the scandal, Ellenberger finished his career with stints as an assistant at UTEP, Indiana, in Chicago with the Bulls and in New York with the WNBA’s Liberty.