May 29, 2012
After 11 years as the head boys basketball coach at Kinston High School, Wells Gulledge will not be on the bench next season.
Effective at the end of the school year, Gulledge will leave his post as basketball coach and athletic director at the school to take a position with a software company in Greenville.
"I've been thinking about it for awhile now, and it really came down to spending time with my family," Gulledge said.
Gulledge has two kids at home, ages 1 and 3, who were at the center of his decision. As athletic director, Gulledge said there were days where he wouldn't get to see his kids because he got home so late.
"They're young, so they may not realize it, but I do," Gulledge said.
Gulledge is an icon in Kinston. After winning the state championship in March, Gulledge was awarded the key to city and Mayor B.J. Murphy declared May 5, 2012, Coach Wells Gulledge Day.
"No one embraced the history of Kinston High School basketball the way Wells Gulledge did," said Bryan Hanks, Managing Editor of The Free Press of Kinston. "His impact on dozens of boys in the basketball program – and hundreds of others as the school's athletics director – can never be quantified."
Kinston teams under Gulledge have won three N.C. High School Athletic Association state championships and played for a fourth. The Vikings have been to the NCHSAA Eastern Regional each of the last six seasons.
In 2008, Gulledge was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year.
Gulledge's career record at Kinston is an amazing 274-55. He was hired as the Vikings' head coach in 2001 just a few weeks before the season began. That year, Gulledge led Kinston to a 3-A Eastern Regional appearance.
"It's rare someone retires while they're at the top of their craft, but that's what Coach Gulledge has done," said Hanks. "He has a team returning that will be the favorite to win the 2-A title again in 2013."
A native of Rockingham, Gulledge, 39, was a star guard for Richmond County High School. He played college basketball at Mount Olive College, became a graduate assistant, and is now in the school's Sports Hall of Fame.
At the age of 25, Gulledge landed his first head-coaching position at Jacksonville High School in 1998. He was the youngest 4A head coach in the state at the time.
Gulledge said he isn't sure this will be the end of his coaching career.
"I can't say I won't get back into it, but right now this is the right decision for me. It's the right time for my family," he said.
Longtime assistant coach Perry Tyndall will take over as interim head coach, according to Gulledge. Tyndall is expected to be named the permanent head coach at a later date.
Gulledge had several dozen players go on to play college basketball in his 11-year tenure in Kinston, including Corey Rouse to ECU (Kinston class of 2002), Herbert Hill to Providence (2002), Jeremy Ingram to Wake Forest/ECU (2003), Michael Jenkins to Winthrop (2004), Miguel Starkey to LCC/UNC-Pembroke (2007), Curtis “Nootsie” Hines to LCC/Shaw (2007), Bo Ingram to Texas-Arlington (2008), Reggie Bullock to UNC (2010) and Dory Hines to Mount Olive (2010)
Bryan Hanks of the Kinston Free Press contributed to this report.