St. John’s men’s basketball coach Jim Smith, Minnesota’s career leader in college basketball victories, announced his retirement Tuesday after 51 years at the Collegeville, Minn., school.

“This has been a very difficult decision and one that has required a great deal of thought and lost sleep,” the 80-year-old Smith said in a statement. “I will miss my associations with our basketball players more than anything else but will always relish the times that we spent together.

“ … It has been a great ride, and I never thought I would be at St. John’s for 51 years.”

St. John’s ended its 2014-15 season with a 16-10 record (14-6 MIAC), a third-place finish in the conference standings and advanced to the MIAC quarterfinals. Smith ended his career second in NCAA Division III history with 786 victories (786-556 career record) and tied for 14th in NCAA basketball history.

Smith led his teams to seven MIAC titles, five MIAC playoff titles, nine trips to the NAIA tournament and eight trips to the NCAA Division III playoffs, most recently in 2007.

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