Chaney retires after 24 years
Hall of Fame basketball coach John Chaney announced his retirement March 13 after 24 years at the helm of one of the most successful college basketball programs in the nation.
“I have said all along that I would know when it would be time to step down, and now is that time,” Chaney said.
“I want to thank Temple University, its fans and community for allowing me to do what I love for so long.
It has never been a job for me, but a passion. 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.”
Said President David Adamany: “Coach John Chaney’s basketball achievements are legendary. In two dozen years at Temple, Coach Chaney did not always have the strongest recruiting classes, but he always got the most out of his players, on and off the court. John’s most exemplary accomplishment will be in the lives he transformed by providing opportunity to, and demanding excellence from, the student-athletes he recruited to Temple. His very presence restored Temple’s basketball program to one of national importance.
“On behalf of his players, the entire University community and college basketball fans everywhere, I thank and congratulate Coach Chaney for his remarkable perseverance and success,” Adamany added.
A search for a successor will begin immediately, Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw said.
Temple prides itself on one of the richest basketball traditions in the country, and John Chaney played a major role in perpetuating that tradition. Only six schools (Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, St. John’s and Syracuse) have more all-time wins than Temple and only three active Division I coaches (Bob Knight, Eddie Sutton and Lute Olson) have more career victories than the 74-year-old Chaney. Chaney became the second Temple coach inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame upon his election in 2001, joining Harry Litwack, who coached at Temple from 1952 to 1973.
Throughout his storied coaching career, Chaney was a dedicated and strong-willed teacher, who molded the character of his players with discipline, hard work and common decency. Noting that Chaney’s Hall of Fame banner hangs from the Liacouras Center rafters and that Chaney’s name joins Harry Litwack’s on the basketball floor’s tip-off circle, Bradshaw commented that “Coach will always be part of Temple.”
“John has done as much for his kids, for our program and for this University as has any basketball coach anywhere in the country,” Bradshaw added. “He helped bring national visibility to the University and he re-established Temple basketball as the team nobody else wanted to play come tournament time.”
Twenty-three of Chaney’s 24 Temple teams played in postseason tournaments, including 17 NCAA Tournament appearances. Before his arrival in 1982, the Temple basketball program had never participated in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. Under Chaney’s leadership, the Owls earned five consecutive berths between 1984 and 1988. The program rode a school-record streak of 12 straight appearances in the March Madness field from 1990 through 2001, including five trips to the Elite Eight (1988, 1991, 1993, 1999 and 2001). Only four schools went to as many regional finals in those 16 years: Duke (9), Kentucky (8), North Carolina (7) and Arizona (6). During his tenure, Chaney was twice named the national Division I coach of the year and his 1987–88 team ended the season ranked No. 1 in the country.
Dawn Staley, coach of Temple’s nationally ranked women’s basketball team, described Chaney as a high-energy, visionary mentor.
“Coach has high expectations, but he also provides tremendous support,” Staley said. “Just like with his players, he has taught me a lot about the game of basketball and a lot about the game of life. Many times, during practice or in a game, I’ll think to myself, ‘What would John do in this situation?’ Just watch him in a game. No matter what the score, he never stops teaching.
That’s the best compliment you can give to any coach.”
Chaney joined Temple in 1982 after 10 years as basketball coach at Cheyney University, where he turned the program into a national Division II power. His Cheyney teams compiled a phenomenal 225-59 record, appeared in eight national championship tournaments and won the NCAA Division II title in 1978.
Chaney began his coaching career at Philadelphia’s Sayre Junior High, where his teams won 59 of 68 games. He then moved up to Simon Gratz High and quickly turned a struggling 1-17 club into a perennial winner.
As a player, Chaney earned many honors. At Benjamin Franklin High, he was singled out as the Most Valuable Player in the Philadelphia Public League. At Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla., he was honored as an NAIA All-American and named the Most Valuable Player in the 1953 NAIA Championships. In the ensuing 10 years, as a professional player in the Eastern Basketball League, he was named all-pro six times and earned the league’s MVP award in 1959 and 1960. He even doubled as a coach for two seasons.
A 1955 graduate of Bethune-Cookman College, Chaney also holds a master’s degree from Antioch College. He and his wife Jeanne are the parents of a daughter (Pamela) and two sons (John and Darryl), and have four grandchildren. The Chaneys reside in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.
Media Coverage Highlights