HomeLocal News

Dr. Lee Cigliano, retired men’s basketball coach at Cleveland State, inducted into TCCAA Hall of Fame

Dr. Lee Cigliano, retired men’s basketball coach at Cleveland State Community College, has been inducted into the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association Hall of Fame (TCCAA). Cigliano will be recognized for this honor at the Cougars home basketball game on Saturday, January 28 at 4 p.m.


Cigliano retired in 2021 after 25 years of coaching at Cleveland State. He was an assistant coach at Western Carolina and worked as a high school basketball coach prior to Cleveland State. As a college athlete, he played basketball at Cleveland State and Belmont University. Cigliano built a foundation for the men’s basketball program. In his second year as the Cougar Head Coach, he coached the team to their second ever TCCAA Eastern Division regular season championship. In the first five years of his tenure when schools had to qualify for the region and state tournament by finishing in the top four of their division, his teams qualified three times.


Over the next 20 years his teams advanced to the Region 7 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)/TCCAA Championship game four different years: 2007, 2009, 2019 and 2021. Cigliano led the Cougars to the 2019 Region 7 NJCAA/TCCAA Championship and qualified for the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas. The Cougars made history by becoming the only 24 th seed ever to defeat a ninth seed when Cleveland State defeated Casper College of Wyoming in a first-round game. Casper entered the national tournament number six in the nation.


In 2021, Cigliano’s final season and just two years after leading the Cougars to the sweet sixteen finish at the national tournament, he coached Cleveland State to a TCCAA Eastern Division championship and runner-up finish in the Region 7 NJCAA/TCCAA Tournament. Cleveland State Athletic Director, Mike Policastro, said, “I want to congratulate Coach Cigliano on his TCCAA Hall of Fame recognition, his career at Cleveland State has been one of the most impactful in terms of his on the floor success as well as mentoring the players that were in the program. This recognition is well deserved.”


Cigliano earned NJCAA Region 7 Coach of the Year in 2019 and TCCAA Eastern Division Coach of the Year in 2021. During his coaching tenure, he earned a doctorate of education from East Tennessee State University. Perhaps his most gratifying honors were the many student athletes he mentored not only on the floor but in the classroom. Over 50 players in the men’s basketball program transferred to four-year colleges or universities with scholarships including three Academic All-Americans.


Cigliano said, “I want to thank all the players over the years who allowed me to coach them as they are an integral part of who I am and this honor. Their success in life validates what I believe college coaching can be for each student athlete. I am so grateful to Cleveland State for the opportunity afforded me as the men’s basketball coach. The many school colleagues, numerous assistant coaches and support staff throughout the years will long be remembered as I ponder on my career. Lastly, I want to thank Athletic Director Mike Policastro for his confidence in me and for his nomination for the Hall of Fame. It is truly appreciated.”


For more information on Cleveland State Community College, visit the website at clevelandstatecc.edu or email clscc_info@clevelandstatecc.edu. If you are interested in applying, visit mycs.cc/applynow. Students are currently enrolled online and on-campus through the CSCC main campus in Cleveland, Tennessee, as well as CSCC’s McMinn Higher Education Center in Athens, Tennessee and the Monroe County Center in Vonore, Tennessee.


CSCC earned the Tennessee Board of Regent’s 2019 College of The Year. CSCC directly serves Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, and Polk Counties in Tennessee. The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving more than 140,000 students.