Hall of Fame coach John Chaney, the fiery, longtime leader of the Temple Owls, died Friday at 89.
Respected as a basketball tactician and teacher and beloved by his players as a father figure, Chaney guided the Philadelphia program to 17 NCAA tournaments and five appearances in the Elite Eight.
“A man who lived his life the way he wanted, and will be remembered for his service,” former Temple player Lynard Stewart told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Chaney guided the Owls to a 516-253 record from 1982-2006 after leading Pennsylvania’s Cheyney State to a Division II national championship in 1978. His overall record was 741-312.
The five-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Famous for his smothering defenses, 5 a.m. practices and neckties that were wildly loosened before the first media timeout, Chaney could also be a polarizing figure. He loudly voiced his opposition to NCAA initial-eligibility standards that were based on SAT or ACT scores.
And when his Owls were locked in fierce rivalry with UMass during the 1990s, he once threatened to kill then-Minutemen coach John Calipari. He was suspended, and the coaches later reconciled.
“I’m so saddened to hear that we have lost John Chaney, a coaching icon, a Hall of Famer, a molder of young men, the ultimate competitor and a dear friend,” Calipari, now the coach at Kentucky, tweeted Friday. “Being able to compete against the best at a young age gave me a great opportunity to grow and learn.”
Chaney celebrated his 89th birthday on Jan. 21.
“I just want to be remembered as someone who cared. It’s that simple,” Chaney told The Athletic in an interview published in 2019. “What we need more of these days — I don’t care how you look at it — is caring for others, whoever that is.”
That’s how Dawn Staley, the women’s basketball coach at South Carolina, said she will remember him. Staley was the women’s coach at Temple from 2000-08.
“I’m deeply saddened by the passing of someone I hold dear to my heart,” Staley tweeted Friday afternoon. “He has done so many great things with his life but giver is amongst the top. Giver to the voiceless, underprivileged, the game, to his peeps….I happened to be one of them. Coach Chaney God be with you!”
—Field Level Media