John Chaney, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame basketball coach known for his success with the Temple men’s program from 1982-2006, passed away on Friday at the age of 89. The news was initially reported by Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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
As the head coach at Temple, Chaney made five Elite Eights, including as recently as 2001, and looked over a program that developed such talents as Aaron McKie and Eddie Jones. Chaney also won the Division II national championship while coaching at the HBCU Cheyney State in Philadelphia. He was enshrined in the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2001, shortly after his final Elite Eight appearance.
Known for his early-morning practices and larger-than-life mentor, Chaney received praise from the likes of Dawn Staley and JA Adande after his death was reported.
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
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
Chaney had a passionate style as a coach and made headlines in several instances for sticking up for his players, including an infamous postgame altercation with John Calipari in 1994 as well as another four years prior with Calipari. Late in his career, Chaney was caught up in a dispute with rival St. Joe’s over Chaney’s deployment of a player into the game solely to commit fouls and make a point to the referees, after which he was suspended for the 2005 season.
As one of the most famous coaches in Philadelphia sports history and within college basketball more broadly, Chaney will be missed, particularly among Owls fans, as he led the program to 17 NCAA Tournaments in 18 years. Coupled with the passing of another legendary Black coach, John Thompson, late last year, Chaney’s passing signals our distance from a bygone era in college hoops.