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'Great basketball mind': Dick Parfitt, who coached CMU to two NCAAs, dies at 90

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Dick Parfitt, who starred in basketball and baseball at what then was known as Central Michigan College of Education and later became head coach of CMU's men's basketball program, has died.

Parfitt died at his home in Mt. Pleasant on Monday. He was 90.

He was a regular visitor of the men's and women's basketball programs, until recently.

Dick Parfitt, long-time Central Michigan men's basketball coach, has died at 90.

"He would come around probably once a month. He'd get our practice schedule and come watch," said Heather Oesterle, head women's coach. "He was quite a fixture here. Everybody knew who he was.

"He was so supportive of our program. He'd come in the office and visit and talk to me. He was a really, really good guy and a great basketball mind, even at his age. He'd been around this past summer."

Parfitt returned to Mt. Pleasant in 1962 as an assistant coach for the men's team, then took over as head coach in 1971, leading the Chippewas to three Mid-American Conference championships in 14 seasons. Parfitt was MAC coach of the year in 1974-75, and finished with a 192-179 record. His teams made the NCAA Tournament twice, in 1975 and 1977, beating Georgetown in 1975, before losing to Kentucky.

He coached nine players who were drafted into either the NBA or the ABA. In 1990, he was inducted into the school's athletics Hall of Fame, and a gym in Rose Center is named after him.

Several people in the basketball world were mourning his death this week, including Georgia head men's coach Tom Crean, a Mt. Pleasant native. When he was coach at Indiana, Parfitt came to a game against Michigan State.

"And his compliments inspired me like I was a kid again," Crean wrote on Twitter.

Parfitt, a native of Fulton in west Michigan, played basketball and baseball at what now is known as CMU. His last two seasons in basketball, he led the team in scoring, at 10.2 and 16.5 points, respectively, and was named the teams Most Valuable Player during his senior year. That year, he made 88.5% of his free-throw attempts, best in the nation. 

He coached and taught in Laingsburg, Michigan, northeast of Lansing, from 1955-62, before returning to coach at his alma mater.

Parfitt's wife Patricia died in 2019, at 88. They were high school sweethearts. The couple had three children, Kurt, Todd and Kim, and three grandchildren. 

Funeral arrangements were pending Wednesday.

"Coach Parfitt was a CMU legend," Central Michigan athletic director Amy Folan said. "We're lucky to have had him at the helm of our men's basketball program for so many years.

"He will be dearly missed by all in the CMU athletics family."

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984