Gary Edwards, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., is entering his 10th season at the helm of the Patriot men's basketball program, and his 32nd year as a college head coach.
His career coaching mark stands at 512-381 in 31 seasons, including a 7-4 mark in NCAA Tournament games and an 8-1 mark when playing for a conference or regional championship.
Edwards, 57, took over the reins of the Francis Marion University men's basketball program on April 26, 2006, and became the sixth head coach in the program's 45-year history. His nine-year mark on the Patriot bench is 123-125. He improved the Patriots' win total in each of his first four seasons in Florence and guided FMU to four consecutive winning campaigns -- a first since the program joined the NCAA in 1992 -- and only one year shy of the program record of five consecutive winning campaigns.
During the summer of 2012, Edwards was named an Associate Athletic Director for Internal Operations, assuming additional duties within the Francis Marion athletic department.
On the court this past year, FMU registered a 13-15 record, a record belied by the fact that eight conference losses were by five points or less. Edwards recorded his 500th career victory with a 61-53 win over Lenoir-Rhyne University on Nov. 15, 2014. The squad finished second nationally in steals per game (11.5) and produced one All-Conference performer as well as the PBC Freshman of the Year.
In 2013-14, the Patriots posted a 12-15 mark, including a road win over nationally ranked GSW. The Patriots placed fourth in the Peach Belt Conference's East Division and nearly upset nationally ranked Montevallo in the quarterfinals of the PBC Tournament. Francis Marion led the conference in three-pointers made per game (10.1) and free throw accuracy (school-record 76.4%). The squad featured one All-Conference and All-Region performer.
During the 2012-13 campaign, the Patriots compiled an 11-15 record, ranked among the national leaders in team scoring offense, and led NCAA Division II in three-point field goals made per game (13.8). FMU led the Peach Belt in scoring (88.7 ppg) for the third straight year.
In 2011-12, FMU posted a 16-12 overall mark and finished 9-9 in the PBC. Twelve of its 18 conference games were decided by a combined total of 47 points, with four going to overtime. For the second year in a row, his squad led the PBC in scoring offense at 81.6 ppg and ranked 13th nationally. FMU also set a team season record by shooting 74.6% from the free throw line, breaking a mark that had stood for 40 seasons.
In 2010-11, Edwards directed the Patriots to a 16-11 mark and a tie for third place in the PBC's East Division standings. Two Patriots were named to the PBC All-Academic squad and one player was selected to the All-Conference team. His squad led the PBC in scoring offense and ranked 36th nationally at 80.6 ppg.
In 2009-10, he took the Patriots to an 18-10 record and the team's first back-to-back winning seasons in 11 years. Francis Marion again placed third in the PBC's East Division.
During the 2008-09 campiagn, he guided FMU to a 16-12 mark and a fifth-place finish during the Peach Belt regular season. He also took the Patriots overseas to compete in the prestigious Amsterdam Haarlem Basketball Week, held each year in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Francis Marion competed against teams from the Netherlands and Kazakhstan, as well as the Israeli National Team.
In 2007-08, Francis Marion recorded a 12-16 mark (a three-win improvement over the previous year) and an eighth-place finish in the Peach Belt standings. During the year, Edwards captured his 400th career coaching victory (a 69-66 win over Coker College on Nov. 17, 2007), and the FMU program recorded its 500th all-time win (a 77-67 victory over UNC Pembroke on Jan. 16, 2008).
Edwards came to Francis Marion after 10 seasons as head coach at NCAA Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He guided the Indians to a 206-88 mark, including five 20-win campaigns, three Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference titles, and four trips to the Division II national tournament. Under his guidance, IUP advanced to the Elite Eight twice (2000 and 2002) and participated in the 2002 Final Four. He left IUP as the winningest coach in that program's long history.
Edwards returned to South Carolina, where he still ranks as the winningest coach at Division I Charleston Southern University. In nine seasons, he guided the Buccaneers to 121 wins (against 133 losses). His 1995 CSU squad won the Big South Conference title, and he twice earned Big South Conference "Coach of the Year" honors.
He also previously coached at Atlantic Christian College (now known as Barton College), compiling a 62-35 mark in three seasons and leading the Bulldogs to two NAIA national tournament appearances. Prior to his arrival, the Bulldogs had recorded only one winning season in the previous 17 years.
Edwards received a B.A. degree in English (magna cum laude) from Virginia Wesleyan College in 1979, where he was recognized as an academic All-American on the basketball court in 1979. He later earned a master's degree from Old Dominion University.
His coaching career began in 1979 as an assistant varsity coach and head junior varsity coach at his alma mater, Virginia Wesleyan. He then served as an assistant coach at Hofstra University for two years before taking over the Barton program.
While coaching at IUP, he served as a weekly columnist for the Indiana Gazette in Indiana, Pa. He has been a coach at the Eastern Invitational Basketball Camp (2004-05) and the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (1979-82), as well as a head coach in the Summer Professional League of Puerto Rico (1993-95). He served as director of the "Four Great Days of Summer" basketball camps (1987-96).
Each of the past eight seasons (2007-15), he has authored a weekly sports column in the Florence (S.C.) Morning News.
Edwards is married (Corinne) and has two adult children: Grady and Casey. He is the director of the Patriot summer basketball camps (team & individual), and has revived the "Four Great Days of Summer" camp here in Florence.