It doesn’t matter that his team has failed to make the NCAA tournament the past five years. It doesn’t even matter that he has occasionally let his temper get the best of him in the name of competition. All that matters is that John Chaney, gave young, mostly minority men a chance for a free education and a better quality of life.
Chaney, stepped aside, as basketball coach at Temple University March 13. And though he did not coach in his Owls’ first round loss in the NIT, due to health issues with his wife, it was only fitting Chaney stepped aside during the beginning of the fervor that is the NCAA tournament.
The Hall-of-Fame head coach took his team to the Elite Eight five times in his 24-year career.
His classy words in a time of crisis further show what type of coach and man he is.
“I have spent my adult life working hard and preaching loudly for the ideal of fair access, equality of opportunity and fairness for all persons. I have devoted my basketball years not just to winning games and earning a salary, but to helping countless youngsters advance to adulthood with discipline, self-esteem and productive skills. How well I have succeeded is for others to determine, but I know I give those goals my best effort every day.”
For whatever reason, Chaney did not get all the respect he deserved on the court.
Two years ago, when Chaney won his 700th game, he wrote a babbling commentary highlighting his historic achievement because another milestone of his was below the news fold.
As a young bracketologist, I would root for Temple because their gray-haired coach reminded me of my dad. As an older, and a much less successful, bracketologist I rooted for Temple because of the man Chaney was.
What was there not to like about a man who, when given a chance, received a college education and then gave that same opportunity to hundreds of men who might not have otherwise had that chance?
In today’s world of political correctness, Chaney’s straight-shooting approach was a welcomed surprise.
Some of his antics bordered on utter madness, but college basketball will not be the same without John Chaney.
Will Brown is a senior newspaper journalism student from Rockledge. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org