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Former Tech Basketball Coach Bill Foster Dies at 79

Foster led Virginia Tech to the 1995 NIT Championship and a 1996 NCAA Tournament berth.

Bill Foster was head coach of four programs during his time coaching college basketball but he is perhaps best known for his final stop in Blacksburg where he jumpstarted a program mired in the depths of the college hoops basement.

Foster's career began at UNC-Charlotte in the early 1970s where he posted a 59-19 mark while helping the program transition to division one. He was then hired by Clemson of the ACC.

In his second season, Foster's Tiger squad won 22 games and was ranked as high as No. 10 in the AP poll. Overall he managed a 156-101 record in nine seasons at Clemson with the high water mark coming in 1980.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Today we lost Coach Bill Foster at the age of 79. He led Clemson to the 1980 Elite Eight.&#10;&#10;<a href="http://t.co/kEUusGsaDS">http://t.co/kEUusGsaDS</a> <a href="http://t.co/WFoktGt4OS">pic.twitter.com/WFoktGt4OS</a></p>&mdash; Clemson Basketball (@ClemsonMBB) <a href="https://twitter.com/ClemsonMBB/status/603674754558603264">May 27, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">All <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Hokies?src=hash">#Hokies</a> are praying for Coach Foster&#39;s family. <a href="https://twitter.com/VT_MBBall">@VT_MBBall</a> coach from &#39;91-&#39;97, &amp; winner of &#39;95 NIT Championship. <a href="http://t.co/M0xCn9E4DC">pic.twitter.com/M0xCn9E4DC</a></p>&mdash; Buzz Williams (@TeamCoachBuzz) <a href="https://twitter.com/TeamCoachBuzz/status/603666743140208640">May 27, 2015</a></blockquote>

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He took a step down after that to coach independent Miami. Basketball has always played at least second fiddle to football and sometimes baseball at "The U", but Foster coached during a period of trying to upgrade and build out of absolutely nothing.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill Foster&#39;s family today. Foster coached the Canes during the program&#39;s revival. <a href="http://t.co/58EzmWVloE">pic.twitter.com/58EzmWVloE</a></p>&mdash; Miami Basketball (@CanesHoops) <a href="https://twitter.com/CanesHoops/status/603665297908830208">May 27, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Clemson Basketball has lost an All-time great coach and an even better man Bill Foster. Thoughts and prayers with his family.</p>&mdash; Coach Brad Brownell (@Coach_Brownell) <a href="https://twitter.com/Coach_Brownell/status/603719016709025792">May 28, 2015</a></blockquote>

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After a 78-71 record with the Hurricanes, Foster landed in Blacksburg to start the 1990s where his final stint as a head coach would prove fruitful in another challenging environment.

Tech was in the dying Metro Conference to start the 90s with teams like VCU and Southern Miss routinely visiting Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies posted 10-18 marks in Foster's first two seasons and things looked just as bleak as ever. But behind the scenes, Foster was putting together a tremendous group of talent that would win 18 games in 1993 before breaking out the following year.

Powered by the talent of players like Ace Custis, Damon Watlington, Shawn Smith and all the Jackson's the Hokies won 25 games during the 1994-95 season and won the NIT Championship for only the second time in school history.

The following season, Tech moved to the Atlantic 10 conference for basketball and the team continued to roll climbing as high as No. 8 in the AP Poll. Late in the season, the then No. 10 Hokies hosted No. 1 UMass (coached by John Calipari) in what I'm fairly certain is the only game between top ten teams in Cassell Coliseum history.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">2015 has been a sad year in the basketball coaching world. Another legendary coach, Bill Foster, died today. RIP <a href="http://t.co/bTxwNOLh9q">pic.twitter.com/bTxwNOLh9q</a></p>&mdash; Yerrick Stoneman (@coachstoneman) <a href="https://twitter.com/coachstoneman/status/603752953267257344">May 28, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Tech lost that one and got jobbed by the selection committee with an 9-seed for the NCAA Tournament where they lost to eventual national champion Kentucky in the Second Round.

Still, Foster led the Hokies to some of the  program's better moments and one of the best two-year runs in school history.

He was 101-78 during his time in Blacksburg and briefly gave a shot in the arm to a program that badly seems to need one at least once every decade or so. He recruited some great kids that formed one of the best groups in Tech history including one (Ace Custis) who has his number in the rafters.

He was a great coach who will be missed by many.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">When he retired from coaching in 1997, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Hokies?src=hash">#Hokies</a> gave Bill Foster a fitting gift. <a href="http://t.co/73g7W63VkS">pic.twitter.com/73g7W63VkS</a></p>&mdash; David Teel (@DavidTeelatDP) <a href="https://twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP/status/603696124940148736">May 27, 2015</a></blockquote>

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