Legendary Temple men’s basketball coach John Chaney died a week after his 89th birthday, the school confirmed on Friday.
Chaney was known as a teacher of life lessons with crack-of-dawn practices. He was a two-time USBWA National Coach of the Year (1987, 1988) and won the 1978 NCAA Division II national championship while coaching Cheyney State based out of Cheyney, Pennsylvania.
The school said he died Friday after a short illness.
Temple honors Chaney as leader by example
Temple president Richard M. Englert, who knew Chaney since the coach first started at Temple, said in a statement:
“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. I am also honored to say he was a dear friend.
“For generations of his players, there is only one man whom they all lovingly called Coach even to this day. That was John Chaney. Our most sincere condolences go out to his wonderful family members. We will keep them all in our prayers.”
He joined Temple in 1982, revitalizing the program and leading it to 17 NCAA tournaments and five NCAA regional finals. Before his arrival, the Owls had never made it to the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons. Under Chaney, they rattled off five straight from 1984-88 and then made it 12 straight from 1990 to 2001.
In the years he won Coach of the Year honors, the Owls had 30-win seasons. The 1987-88 team finished the year ranked No. 1 overall. Many of his student-athletes were the first in their families to graduate college thanks to efforts by Chaney.
Current Temple men’s basketball coach Aaron McKie starred for the Owls and Chaney from 1991-94.
“Coach Chaney was like a father to me,” he said in a statement. “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 was enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001. He retired after a 24-year coaching career with Temple in 2006. He was 516-253 (.671) as Temple’s coach and 225-59 at Cheyney.
Tributes pour in for ‘one-of-a-kind’ coach
Fans, reporters and players took to Twitter to honor the coach. Dawn Staley coached the women’s team at Temple for seven seasons beginning in 2000 before heading to South Carolina.
I’m deeply saddened by the passing of someone I hold dear to my heart. 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! ❤️u!
— dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) January 29, 2021
Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Dana O’Neil of The Athletic confirmed it.
Just got confirmation from someone close to John Chaney. The Temple legend of legends has passed away. RIP to a unique man and Hall of Fame coach.
— Mike Jensen (@jensenoffcampus) January 29, 2021
Sadly can confirm the most heartbreaking news of the year: John Chaney has passed away. I am gutted, and have no words
— Dana O'Neil😷 (@DanaONeilWriter) January 29, 2021
John Chaney was far more than a basketball coach. And he fought the kind of struggle that old black coaches had to fight in order to open doors for younger black coaches to have a chance to advance. He was a special man in so many ways.
— Paul Zeise (@PaulZeise) January 29, 2021
We've lost John Thompson and John Chaney -- Big John and Little John -- in the span of 5 months. In the 1980s and 1990s there were no greater fighters on behalf of black athletes and coaches. It hurts that both of their voices are permanently silenced. https://t.co/ZqIdN4zDIc
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) January 29, 2021
Terrible news. Truly one of a kind. RIP John Chaney. https://t.co/xMiClxPhkW
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) January 29, 2021
John Chaney was a one-of-a-kind coach. A character, a pioneer, and a legend.
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) January 29, 2021
Saddened to see the John Chaney news.
If you love college basketball, you should love John Chaney.
Pioneer. Legend. Blunt. Brilliant. Always real.
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) January 29, 2021
Rest In Peace coach John Chaney, a true icon in our profession. Coach you set a terrific standard to follow and I want to thank you for helping to pave the way for coaches of color in college athletics. pic.twitter.com/s7GkODRv94
— Frank Haith (@FrankHaithTulsa) January 29, 2021
Damn. That's crushing. What a #legend. Every weekly A-10 conference call, every postgame in Olean or in Philly. Railing against Philly talk radio, teaching, mocking. Every session had life lessons. There will never be another one like him. #RIP https://t.co/FGxax6MnfG
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) January 29, 2021
One particular video made the rounds after news of Chaney’s death. Chaney famously burst through the back of a postgame press conference on Feb. 19, 1994, and yelled “I’ll kill you!” at John Calipari, then the coach at the University of Massachusetts. He didn’t like how the fellow coach handled the officials.
John Calipari and John Chaney put that incident behind them so much, in fact, that when John Calipari got the Memphis job in advance of the 2000-2001 season and wanted a notable opener, he scheduled none other than John Chaney’s Temple Owls. https://t.co/yOTHH6Iprs
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) January 29, 2021
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