Player and coach will share Maine Basketball Hall of Fame connection

Former Husson University basketball coach Del Merrill is entering this year’s 2018 Maine Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Bangor as one of the most qualified candidates ever to be inducted into this distinguished organization since it started five years ago.

The late Merrill is the 11th Husson player or coach to be named to the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame. He coached three as players and five worked under him as administrators when the school was called Husson College.

Sixteen new inductees will join the Hall along with six Legends of the Game.

Del’s Husson career started out as a basketball and baseball player in the 1940s. He became the head basketball, head baseball coach and athletic director at Husson College in 1954. He was the basketball coach from 1954-68 for 14 years.

His 1955-56 team won the first basketball championship of any kind for Husson. It went undefeated in Northeast conference play and then went on to win the state small college championship for Maine.

The next season the team went undefeated again in Northeast Conference play and finished second in the state small college championship game. Del’s overall career basketball coaching record was 199-85. His teams also won another Maine small college state championship and several other NCC championships.

For many years, he was an outstanding high school and college basketball official.

He also became the second Maine Basketball Commissioner, replacing the original first commissioner Charlie Wotton in the 1970s.

He was named the president of Husson College in 1978 and retired from Husson education in 1987.

He then went on to run the family Blueberry Farm in Ellsworth.

Del certainly is more than well deserving to be selected to the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame either as an outstanding coach, as a highly respected official, and a very popular and effective basketball commissioner because of his many years of successful experience as an athletic administrator, coach and official.

I was fortunate to have played for Del during that 1955-56 first-ever Husson men’s basketball championship season and also again the next 1956-57 season.

Having a personal connection with Coach Merrill, I will be there on Sunday when he is posthumously inducted into the fifth class of the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame at the Cross Insurance Center.

Little did we know back in the 1950s that we both would be inducted into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame.

Congratulations to Coach Merrill’s family and friends. I am looking forward to seeing you when we can celebrate Del’s outstanding career.