Clair Francis Bee (March 2, 1896 – May 20, 1983) was an American basketball coach, who led the team at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York to undefeated seasons in 1936 and 1939, as well as two National Invitation Tournament titles in 1939 and 1941.
He was born in Grafton, West Virginia, and was a graduate of Waynesburg University (then Waynesburg College) where he played football, baseball, and tennis.
His influence on the game also extended to strategies sports camps (Camp All-America), (Kutsher’s Sports Academy), writing technical coaching books, and conducting coaching clinics around the world.
By the time he left coaching in the 1950s, Bee had already begun writing the Chip Hilton Sports Series for younger readers.
Mr. Bee was a small, wiry man, with deep set eyes and a thin, bony face.
Propelled by energy and intellect, he won letters in three sports and earned college degrees at Waynesburg, Ohio State, Rider and Rutgers.
He also was an assistant to two university presidents and the author of more than 50 books.
He wrote on the technical aspect of basketball and was a author of the Chip Hilton series for children.
After coaching at Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania and Rider College in Trenton, Mr. Bee became the L.I.U. basketball coach for the 1931-32 seasons when the college was housed in an obscure loft building behind the main post office in downtown Brooklyn.
With the exception of two years when he was a Commander in the United States merchant marine service, he coached Blackbird teams through 1952 with a record of 357 victories and 79 defeats.
Frank McGuire, who coached basketball at St. John’s, North Carolina, South Carolina and the Philadelphia Warriors of the N.B.A., recalled yesterday that he had visited Mr. Bee while he was the athletic director at the New York Military Academy, a post he held from 1954-67.
Bee was inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame in 1968.
The Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award is awarded every year to a coach who makes an outstanding contribution to the game of college basketball, and the Chip Hilton Player of the Year Award is awarded to a men’s basketball player.
On the Bee-as-charlatan side, Gildea quotes sports historian Albert Figone: “LIU’s role in the 1951 basketball scandal is the story of a brilliant coach who operated a corrupt basketball program by shielding his eyes from the truth with self-serving excuses and justifications, all the while fictionally portraying an idealized version of himself that had never and could never exist in college basketball.
” On the other side is Mike Lupica in a New York Daily News obituary column: “The story of the old man’s life is merely the history of basketball in this country.” And highly acclaimed coach and current basketball broadcaster Bobby Knight, to whom Bee was a mentor and close friend: “The first time I met Clair Bee my impression was that he was a brilliant man,” Knight told a reporter in 1979.
“It wouldn’t take anyone long to see that he had a clear, precise mind that focused on every aspect of the game.”