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Driesell says he’ll step down at the end of next season

March 5, 1997

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) _ James Madison’s Lefty Driesell, still 17 victories shy of 700 for his career, plans to end his coaching career at the end of the 1997-98 season.

``Next year will be my last for sure,″ Driesell told the Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg on Tuesday. ``This is a time-consuming job. There’s a lot of pressure. I’ve done it for nearly 40 years. It’s time to do something else in my life.″

A school spokesman said neither president Ronald E. Carrier nor athletic director Don Lemish would comment on Driesell’s plans.

Driesell’s contract expires this spring, but Carrier said last fall that Driesell could stay until he wins his 700th career game. Driesell has 683 victories and said he will leave even if he doesn’t reach the milestone. In nine seasons at James Madison, Driesell is 159-111.

He has guided the Dukes to at least a share of five regular-season Colonial Athletic Association titles, four NIT appearances and one NCAA bid.

Driesell said he might have quit at the end of this season if James Madison had won the CAA tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Dukes lost in the championship Monday to Old Dominion, 62-58 in overtime.

``Next year, I want to win the thing if we can and go to the NCAAs. I think we’ll have a pretty good shot,″ he said.

Driesell spent 17 seasons at Maryland, where he was 348-159, including eight appearances in the NCAAs, going to the Final Eight in 1973 and 1975. He began his college career at Davidson, where he coached for nine seasons (176-65), including three NCAA bids, reaching the Final Eight in 1968 and 1969.

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