Temple Coach John Chaney instructs his players during a game against Duke in 2006. Chaney, who won 741 games during his 24 seasons as head coach, died Friday at age 89. Tom Mihalek/Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — John Chaney, one of the nation’s leading basketball coaches and a commanding figure during a Hall of Fame career at Temple, died Friday. He was 89.

The university said he died after a short, unspecified illness. He celebrated his birthday last week.

Chaney led Temple to 17 NCAA Tournament appearances over 24 seasons, including five NCAA regional finals. Chaney had 741 wins as a college coach. He was twice named national coach of the year and his teams at Temple won six Atlantic 10 conference titles.

He became a de facto father to dozens of his players, many coming to Temple from broken homes, violent upbringings and bad schools. He often said his biggest goal was simply to give poor kids a chance to get an education.

“Coach Chaney was like a father to me,” said Temple Coach Aaron McKie, who played for Chaney. “He taught not just me, but all of his players more than just how to succeed in basketball. He taught us life lessons to make us better individuals off the court. I owe so much to him. He made me the man I am today.”

John Chaney speaks during a news conference at Temple University on Aug. 18, 1982 in Philadelphia, the day after being named coach of the Owls. A. Schnell/Associated Press

Chaney was an imposing presence on the court – restless, cranky, his otherwise natty clothes in shambles by the end of the game. Often, as he exhorted his team, he put himself in situations he later regretted.

In 1994, he had a heated exchange following a game against UMass in which he threatened to kill John Calipari, then the UMass coach. Chaney apologized and was suspended for a game. The two later became friends. In 1984, Chaney grabbed George Washington Coach Gerry Gimelstob by the shoulders at halftime during a game.

Chaney, whose deep, dark eyes seemed fitting for a school whose mascot is the Owl, was intense on the sidelines. His loud, booming voice could be heard across an arena, and his near-perfect designer clothes were in shambles after most games. After an especially bad call, he would stare down referees. He once gazed at a referee for an entire timeout with a look he dubbed the “One-Eyed Jack.”

Though he seemed permanently cranky, especially during games, Chaney was often tender and funny. He loved telling stories. His postgame news conferences were sometimes more entertaining than the games that preceded them. His retirement news conference in March 2006 wasn’t about hoops but about education’s role in helping the poor and disadvantaged. They included amusing anecdotes, pokes at the school administration and playful threats to slap the mayor.

Temple’s style of play under Chaney’s guidance was never as pretty as that of Duke or North Carolina. Slow, patient and disciplined, his best teams rarely made errors, rarely turned the ball over and always played tough defense. Chaney was simply fearless in all aspects of his work.

He refused to load his schedules with easy teams, and instead traveled to hostile courts to play teams supposedly brimming with talent. He was outspoken about the NCAA’s recruiting rules, which he said hurt players trying to improve their standing in life.

“John Chaney was more than just a Hall of Fame Basketball coach. He was a Hall of Fame in life,” said Chaney’s successor, Fran Dunphy. “He touched countless lives, including my own.”

John Chaney gestures while speaking at a news conference on March 13, 2006, when he retired as Temple’s basketball coach. Joseph Kaczmarek/Associated Press

Chaney arrived at Temple before the 1982-83 season. Perched in one of Philadelphia’s toughest neighborhoods, Temple was the perfect match for a coach who prided himself on helping players turn their basketball skills into college degrees.

He was 50 and already had success at Cheyney State University, where he had a record of 225-59 in 10 seasons. He led Cheyney, in suburban Philadelphia, to the 1978 Division II national championship and was named Division II national coach of the year twice.

Chaney was born on Jan. 21, 1932, in Jacksonville, Florida. He lived in a neighborhood there called Black Bottom, where, he said, flooding rains would bring in rats. When he was in the ninth grade, his family moved to Philadelphia, where his stepfather got a job at a shipyard. Though known as a Hall of Fame coach, he also was one of the best players ever to come out of Philadelphia. He was the Philadelphia Public League player of the year in 1951 at Benjamin Franklin High School.

A graduate of Bethune-Cookman College, he was an NAIA All-American and an NAIA tournament MVP before going pro in 1955 to play with the Harlem Globetrotters. With black players still being discriminated against in the NBA, he spent 1955 to 1966 in the Eastern Pro League with Sunbury and Williamsport, where he was a two-time league MVP.

KENTUCKY: The Wildcats’ game against No. 5 Texas on Saturday night has been canceled and all team activities have been paused for 48 hours because of a combination of positive COVID-19 tests, contact tracing and quarantining.

The Wildcats have had two previous games postponed, but the home matchup with Texas is their first outright cancellation.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

(6) STANFORD 77, WASHINGTON STATE 49: Hayley Jones and Kiana Williams each scored 16 points, and Anna Wilson held the Pac-12’s leading scorer, Charlisse Leger-Walker, to two points as the Cardinal (14-2, 11-2 Pac-12) defeated the Cougars (8-6, 6-6) in Pullman, Washington.

FOOTBALL

SENIOR BOWL: Mac Jones’ last game was for a national championship. The next game he plays is for his NFL draft stock, provided the Alabama quarterback’s gimpy left ankle is good to go.

Jones headlines a group of quarterbacks from high-profile programs at Saturday’s Senior Bowl, 19 days after the Crimson Tide beat Ohio State in the title game.

The Heisman Trophy finalist sat out the end of Thursday’s final practice of the week after hurting his ankle, leaving his status for the game uncertain. Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy said the plan is for Jones to dress and see how his ankle feels.

If healthy Jones, considered a potential first-round pick, would lead the American team along with two other passers with Southeastern Conference connections. He’s joined by Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond and former Wake Forest standout Jamie Newman, who transferred to Georgia before ultimately opting out because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National team is led by Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, Notre Dame’s Ian Book and Feleipe Franks, who transferred from Florida to Arkansas for his final season.

NOTES

Dartmouth College is reinstating five sports that it eliminated and will do an external review of the athletic department’s policies, practices and governance after being accused of not offering equal intercollegiate participation opportunities to women as compared to men.

The school announced in July that it was getting rid of women’s and men’s swimming and diving, women’s and men’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing to help address a projected $150 million financial deficit because of the coronavirus pandemic and give them more flexibility in admissions.

 

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