Famed former Temple University men’s basketball coach John Chaney passed away at the age of 89 on Friday. Temple confirmed Chaney died after a short illness.
Chaney led the Temple Owls for 24 seasons and to 17 NCAA postseason tournament appearances, making it as far as the Elite Eight on five occasions.
Chaney won 516 games from 1982-2006 with the Owls, a school record, and counting his time at Division II Cheyney University, he had more than 700 NCAA victories.
He was a two-time national men’s coach of the year as voted by the basketball writers’ association.
“John Chaney was a great coach, but he was so much more. For generations of Temple University students, he was a wise counselor, a dedicated teacher, an icon of success, and a passionate leader who always led by example and with conviction,” said Temple President Richard M. Englert.
Chaney was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.
“Coach Chaney was like a father to me,” said current Temple men’s basketball coach Aaron McKie. “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.”
Chaney, who went to high school in Philadelphia where Temple is located, was known for his demanding early morning practices and his tough-to-crack matchup zone defenses.
“Temple was becoming really good when I was entering college,” former Kentucky star Rex Chapman wrote on Twitter. “I didn’t visit Temple specifically because John Chaney’s teams practiced in the mornings — before class — at like 5 am. Too tough for me.
“He was a legend. What a coach. What a man. His players loved him.”
Jay BIlas, an ESPN analyst since 1995 and former Duke player, said the coach was iconic.
“Chaney was an American original. I absolutely loved talking with him, including his early morning practices where he had a lecture for his players that would rival any sermon. A great, great man,” Bilas tweeted.
One of Chaney’s most famous moments came in a postgame news conference when he yelled at then-University of Massachusetts coach John Calipari, who had criticized the officials in a close game between the Owls and the Minutemen.
The Temple coach then rushed toward his rival, saying, “I’ll kill you.” He wasn’t able to get near Calipari and despite the heated moments, the two became friends.
“Coach Chaney and I fought every game we competed — as everyone knows, sometimes literally — but in the end he was my friend,” Calipari, who now coaches at the University of Kentucky, tweeted. “Throughout my career, we would talk about basketball and life. I will miss those talks and I will my friend. Rest in peace, Coach!”
Calipari said Chaney’s ability to coach hard while also building life lessons for his players was unmatched.
Before coaching at Temple, Chaney led Cheyney University to a Division II national title in 1978. His teams there won 80% of their games.
Chaney retired as Temple coach in 2006.
“It has never been a job for me, but a passion,” he said at the time. “When I look back, it will not be the wins and losses, but the people who influenced me and touched me greatly, and especially the men’s and women’s coaches and players who have made this university and my time here so special.”
Chaney was a star player at Bethune-Cookman where he was an NAIA All-America and the Most Valuable Player in the 1953 NAIA Championships.