BY SPNW Staff 12:22PM 04/12/2013

State Hoops Legend Marv Harshman (1917-2013)

A star athlete at Pacific Lutheran in football and basketball, Marv Harshman coached PLU, Washington and Washington State for 40 years. He died Friday.

Marv Harshman, who passed away Friday, coached NCAA Tournament teams at Washington in his final two seasons as a head coach, 1984 and 1985. Five of his UW teams played in the postseason. / David Eskenazi Collection

See David Eskenazi’s Wayback Machine: Marv Harshman’s Athletic Life, originally published March 20, 2012

Marv Harshman, a former star athlete at Pacific Lutheran University who went on to coach college basketball in the state of Washington for four decades, passed away Friday morning at 95. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame, Harshman in recent months had been in an assisted-living facility in Tacoma and had been in failing health.

According to a spokesperson for the family, final arrangements are pending.

Harshman, who graduated from Lake Stevens High School, graduated from PLU in 1942 with a degree in biological science and joined the U.S. Navy, in which he served until 1946. Harshman was a two-time All-America basketball selection and good enough in football that the Chicago Cardinals selected him 134th overall in the 1942 NFL draft.

Born Oct. 4, 1917 in Eau Claire, WI, Harshman won13 letters in four sports at PLU.

After his stint in the Navy, Harshman became the head basketball coach at Pacific Lutheran University, where he served from 1946-58, compiling a 241-121 record. He led the Lutes to four NAIA District 1 championships and four national tournament appearances. He received an unprecedented seven NAIA District 1 Coach of the Year awards.

Harshman then began a 13-year tenure at Washington State University, replacing the legendary Jack Friel, posting a 151-185 mark from 1959-71. Three times, his WSU teams finished second in the conference race to UCLA dynasty teams.

In 1972, Harshman moved to the University of Washington, replacing Tex Winter. Over the next 14 seasons, Harshman, the 14th head coach in UW history, had a record of 246-146 and a winning percentage of .628.

When he retired following the 1985 season, had 642 coaching victories in 1,090 collegiate games, the ninth-highest total in Division 1 history. His 642 wins rank 34th on the all-time NCAA coaching list.

Harshman directed the Huskies to four 20-win seasons, with five of his teams taking part in postseason play. Under his direction, the Huskies played in three NCAA Tournaments and he concluded his career with back-to-back Pac-10 championships in 1984 and 1985.

Harshman taught the game to more than 500 athletes, his best at Washington including Ray Price, Steve Hawes, Louie Nelson, James Edwards, Clarence Ramsey, Detlef Schrempf, Chris Welp and Paul Fortier. Harshman also coached Washington’s current coach, Lorenzo Romar, in 1979-80.

Three of Harshman’s Washington players, Hawes, Nelson and Edwards, made All-America and 20 were drafted by NBA teams.

Harshman was the conference Coach of the Year in 1982 and 1984 and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985, the Husky Hall of Fame that same year, the Washington State University Hall of Fame in 1986, the PLU Hall of Fame in 1990 and the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.

In addition to his college work, Harshman coached the 1975 United States basketball team to a Pan American Games gold medal.

After leaving the UW, Harshman continued to attend Husky games on a regular basis until health issues prevented travel.


  • jafabian

    Coach Harshman is a big part of Washington sports as a whole. Not just for UW. He will be missed.

  • stew

    Cannot tell you how much I owe this man for guiding me into coaching and teaching. I hope I did him proud.

    K. Stewart, UW 78

    • steve rudman

      Saw you play, Kim. You sure did.

    • art thiel

      I think you did. Thanks for summarizing what so many of his former players feel.

  • Ray the Machine Price

    Best second Father and Family, Dorothy, Dave, Brian & Mike, a player could ask for being from Calif. He taught me so much about basketball & life. So glad I was able to see & visit him over the past 30 years, sharing him with my Husky Baseball teammates who he loved, and having great memories & photos with him. He was my Washington Family! RIP Marv, you are now with your love of your life Dorothy & Son Brian, gone but will never be forgotten, Luv ya,
    Go DaWgs!
    Ray Price

    • steve rudman

      Thanks so much for your insight, Ray. You were one of the reasons Marv was such a great coach!

  • Lars Hansen

    Like so many international players that came to the U of W to play for Marv Harshman, ‘ We learned from the best, and Coach expected no less.’ Lars Hansen UW 76