Bo Ellis: A Career of Loyalty

Bo Ellis played in two Final Fours and is a member of Marquette's hall of fame. He also coached at Marquette from 1988-1998, and returned to the University in 2004 and coached under Tom Crean for the past two seasons before announcing his retirement earlier this May.

Whether it was The Omni center in Atlanta packed with gold, Al McGuire shedding tears during the final seconds, or Bo Ellis hanging on the rim celebrating victory, the images of Marquette's only National Championship in 1977 are lasting. It was arguably the most memorable moment the University has ever had. For Marquette big man Bo Ellis, this moment was just one of many he would have with the University. Ellis, a member of Marquette's hall of fame honoring his playing career, coached at Marquette from 1988-1998. He returned to the University in 2004 and coached under Tom Crean for the past two seasons before announcing his retirement earlier this May.

"Its time," said Coach Ellis. "These last two years have really been tough being away from my family in Chicago. My daughter passed away last year and that changed my focus, she was always on my mind."

Ellis said he plans to spend his time helping young kids in the inter-city of Chicago.

"I want to help open up some doors, give some kids a chance like people gave me a chance growing up as a young man. I am definitely looking forward to this opportunity. There are a lot of things I have learned through the years and I know I can help pass that on."

Coach Ellis began his coaching career in 1988 as a member of Bob Dukiet's staff. According to Ellis, the program was in shambles as Dukiet lasted just one more season. In 1989 though, Coach Kevin O'Neill began to turn the program around. Ellis said his reputation as a great recruiter and his approach to recruiting was outstanding. He said that his game plans were well prepared and that Coach O'Neill helped Marquette back on the map.

"When Kevin came in, I learned a lot. He was a disciple of Lute Olson(current Arizona Head Coach) so he came from a good coaching family. I got my coaching background from Kevin and our success during his years here. We went to the sweet 16 and really started to generate some excitement about Marquette again."

O'Neill's tenure ended in 1994 and Ellis worked for his third head coach in Mike Deane. Deane kept the energy going reaching the NIT finals in 1995.

"Mike Deane continued to keep things rolling. Coach Crean built on the success that Kevin and Mike had and took Marquette to a higher level still by reaching the final four. All four coaches I worked for were different and had different philosophies. I am just really appreciative for the opportunity to come back under Tom, to be at my Alma matter and be a part of something that I have always loved. I liked having a part in the success we have had."

Ellis is leaving the school during the summer before Marquette enters the Big East conference. Season after season, the competition for recruiting and the conference play will be tougher. However, Ellis believes that Marquette has a good chance to compete against the new conference.

"Our new additions should help build on the foundation that we already have in place. Dan (Fitzgerald) is a very smart player, very basketball savvy. He is a leader and he has been in our system for a year already. Wes Matthews, Dominic James and Jerel McNeal earned a lot of respect from the team when they came into play with our guys. The type of players we have athletically and skill wise are going to compete, there's no question."

"The big key is going to be our big guys, if they can hold the paint well, things will be alright. The first tier was built down there with Ooze(Osmane Barro) and Ryan Amoroso, and the new kids can add on to that. Sure there will be a lot of expectations, but I think you will have more good than bad this first year. These guys played a lot of basketball in high school against great competition. They will be ready. Our success will depend on how they grow."

Bo Ellis has certainly seen Marquette grow through four different decades. He has seen the highs and the lows of our program. But his quiet demeanor and his work ethic have been steady throughout his career. Ellis seeks not the spotlight but the opportunity to help others behind the scenes. He wishes that people remember him for his loyalty.

"No matter what position I have been in, I have always wanted Marquette to succeed. I just want people to remember how I represented Marquette and the Milwaukee community."

It is in this same subtle manner than Coach Ellis leaves Marquette this summer. He isn't making any sort of loud exit. He was one of the faces of Marquette basketball in the late 70's. He designed some of Marquette's nationally famous baby blue and gold uniforms. He was pictured in one of the lasting images of the Warrior's title run of 1977 underneath and inside the rim. He appeared in one of the best selling movie documentaries of all time, "Hoop Dreams," helping recruit William Gates to Marquette. And he could still be seen during these last few years of his coaching career, opening doors for young women on campus or talking to students on their way to class. Without a doubt, Bo Ellis's loyalty will not be forgotten.

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