One of college basketball’s greatest coaches passed away Wednesday after battling lung cancer. Rollie Massimino, who compiled more than 800 collegiate wins in his tenure, died at the age of 82 at his home in Florida.
Massimino was best known for leading Villanova to an improbable national title in 1985. In the championship game, his eighth-seeded Novas knocked off No. 1-seeded Georgetown, packed with talent, such as star center Patrick Ewing, to win 66-64. In his 19 seasons at Villanova, he compiled a record of 355-241 before leaving for UNLV in 1992, according to ESPN.
“He’s like a father to me,” said Ed Pinckney, a star of the 1985 Villanova team. “We talked about life, not basketball. I still talked to him all the time. My youngest son, Austin, played for him at Northwood.”
Massimino, after coaching at Villanova, coached two seasons at UNLV, then later at Cleveland State for seven seasons, followed by a short stint at NAIA Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida, which later changed its school name to Northwood. Sentiment has poured in from across the nation.
Ewing, now the head coach of the Georgetown Hoyas, paid tribute as well, saying, “The Georgetown family is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Rollie Massimino.”
Massimino started his career as a high school coach, where he spent a decade at that level, winning a Massachusetts state title at Lexington High, before being hired by Stony Brook in 1969. He worked at Penn State before becoming the head coach at Villanova in 1973.
Please pray for the Massimino family during this difficult time. Another basketball legend passed away recently at the age of 101. He was the oldest living Hall of Famer across all major professional sports up until the time of his death.