ATHENS — John Guthrie, who coached basketball at the University of Georgia for nine seasons during the 1970s, the first four as an assistant and the latter five as head coach, died Tuesday night. He was 70.
Guthrie was hired as an assistant at Georgia by then-coach Ken Rosemond in time for the 1969-70 season. They coached together for four seasons before Guthrie was named coach in 1973.
During that time, most major Southern universities began integrating the rosters of their athletic teams, and Guthrie played a primary role in this transition at Georgia. He is largely credited with the successful recruitment of Ronnie Hogue, a Washington-area native who became the Bulldogs' first African-American basketball player. Hogue remains one of the program's record-holders, having set its single-game scoring mark of 46 points in a 1971 game against LSU.
Hogue was one of five Georgia players to earn All-Southeastern Conference first-team distinction during Guthrie's time in Athens. Bob Lienhard (1970), John Fraley (1972), Tim Bassett (1973) and Jacky Dorsey (1975-76) also won such honors.
A native Atlantan, Guthrie was an all-state basketball and baseball player at Murphy High School. He graduated in 1962 from Oglethorpe University, where he served as head coach of the freshman basketball team his senior year. He then became a coach and teacher for three seasons at Southwest DeKalb High School before returning to Oglethorpe in 1965 to coach basketball, baseball and tennis.
Guthrie coached basketball at George Washington University for two seasons before joining Rosemond's staff at Georgia.
Guthrie worked for 25 years (1981-2005) as assistant commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. In his position, he was the league's supervisor of basketball officials, a role he also served for the Big South Conference.
Guthrie is survived by his wife, Angela; son, David, an NBA official the past six years, and his wife, Laura, and their three children; and daughter, Campbell.
A memorial service for Guthrie will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the First United Methodist Church in Duluth.