On Friday, January 29, 2021, college basketball icon and Hall of Fame coach, John Chaney, passed away at the age of 89. Temple University reported that Chaney has died of an illness, but have not disclosed where he died or the cause of his death.
On Monday, Temple University held a socially-distanced memorial at the Liacouras Center from 9 A.M.-1 P.M.
Chaney was born on January 21, 1932 in Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up in a low-income neighborhood, where blacks were discriminated against and had a hard time finding well paying jobs. Chaney even recalled the discrimination against blacks at an early age while living in Jacksonville. He said: "We lived in the projects, where the blacks lived. At an early age, I saw the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in front of our house. And my mother asked us to get inside and hide. You know, like under the bed. We were frightened of it, and fearful of it, and always subservient to whites.” When Chaney graduated from middle school, Chaney’s parents moved to Philadelphia for better employment opportunities.
Chaney attended Benjamin Franklin High School in Center City Philadelphia, where he met his high school basketball coach and mentor, Sam Brown. Brown persuaded Chaney to come try out for the team after watching shoot around on the outdoor courts. Brown provided the push John needed for him and his teammates to thrive, emphasizing the importance of education, character and integrity. Brown also took time out to organize team trips to help the team bond. Chaney said that the way that Brown believed in him inspired him to push himself athletically and academically. That drive and determination led him to becoming the 1951 Philadelphia Public League MVP and moving on to a Division 1 HBCU program at Bethune-Cookman College. After 4 years at Bethune-Cookman College, where he was a NAIA All-American, he joined the Eastern Pro League in Central Pennsylvania. Chaney played 11 years in the Eastern Pro League and was named MVP twice.
In 1972, Chaney began his college coaching career at a HBCU called Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, where he won a national championship and was the Division 2 Coach of the Year in 1978. After 10 years at Cheyney University, Chaney became the head coach of Temple University’s Men’s Basketball Team in 1982. Chaney stayed at Temple from 1982-2006 and racked up several awards in the process. Chaney was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association NCAA Division 1 Coach of the Year twice, the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year five times, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, during his coaching career. Chaney also guided Temple to 17 NCAA Tournament appearances and 6 conference championships. Chaney's established career produced over 10 NBA players, but what Chaney will be most remembered for is his willingness to help build strong character in his players and for them to apply lessons learned through basketball. Chaney also advocated for college coaches’ and was a beacon of hope to many others who want to follow in his footsteps. The sports world has lost a legend and he will be missed.