Phillips announces retirement from Clark

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Paul Phillips on the sidelines in a dark suit and red tie. (Clark athletics photo)
Paul Phillips patrolled the Clark men's basketball sidelines from 1996 to 2004 and returned in 2006.
Clark athletics photo

After 21 years as Clark head men's basketball coach, Paul W. Phillips has announced that he will retire following the 2018-2019 season. Phillips retires after 31 seasons spent as a head basketball coach, which included 10 years at Anna Maria. With the 2018-19 season still in progress, Phillips currently holds a cumulative 438-364 record. The Cougars are currently 4-9.

"After contemplating this for quite a while I have come to the decision that it is time for me to step away from coaching," said Phillips. "I truly appreciate everything that Clark has done for me and everything that the institution has allowed me to do," he continued. "I will miss the student-athletes the most, but will also miss the action and camaraderie that is developed on and off the court."

Phillips took the reins for the 1996-97 season. Under his leadership, the team made a total of five trips to the NCAA Tournament (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2010), made back-to-back NCAA Elite Eight appearances (2001 and 2002), won four New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season championships, and four NEWMAC tournament championships. Phillips is the all-time leader in wins at Clark (currently 273) and was named the NEWMAC Coach of the Year following the 1999-2000 season.

After the 2003-04 season, Phillips left coaching to take a high school administrative position, but he returned to Clark for the 2006-07 campaign.

"For more than two decades, Paul served a vital role in the development of our student-athletes through coaching a game he loved. His alumni have been successful after graduation, thanks in large part to the values instilled through Paul's work," said athletic director Trish Cronin. "Clark University and the city of Worcester have benefitted from Paul's investment in the community.  We will forever be grateful for his contributions".

Prior to Clark, Phillips spent ten seasons as the head men's basketball coach at Anna Maria. During his time there he reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and recorded a school record of 25 wins in 1996. He led the program to six Commonwealth Coast Conference regular season championships and posted an overall record of 166-99.

"Coach Phillips has made a lasting impact on the men's basketball program and the entire University. His commitment to the student-athletes and preparing them for life after Clark is unmatched. His energy, passion and commitment to coaching and the student athletes has made a lasting impression on all of us in the department," said associate athletic director, Joe Brady, who has worked alongside Phillips for 14 years.

Beyond all of his successes in the basketball world, Phillips has made an extraordinary impact in the surrounding Worcester community. He is a strong believer and teacher of a "Books First—Basketball Second" motto. He created the "B1—B2" clinic, which puts his motto into practice with tutoring young children in both their academic studies and basketball skills.

For all of his community service efforts Phillips was awarded the John W. Lund Community Achievement Award from Clark in 1998 and the Thomas Jefferson Award from the Worcester Public Schools in 2012.

In 2016 Phillips received the Paul N. Johnson Memorial Award from the Worcester Area College Basketball Association for his contributions to Worcester area basketball.

Assistant men's basketball coach Mike Burlas has been on the sidelines with Phillips since 1990. He assisted Phillips at Anna Maria from 1990-1996 and has been with him every step of the way at Clark. "I am grateful for the opportunity Coach Phillips gave me 26 years ago. It has been very special working with him for all of these years. He is a coach who truly cares about his players. It was never all about the wins and losses, but it was more about helping prepare the student athletes for life through this great game of basketball," said Burlas.

Phillips is looking forward to spending more time with his wife Jane and his two sons. He does not rule out a return to the courts.

"I don't think I'm done with basketball," said Phillips. "I love being around the game and coaching kids."