It's the End of the Chaney Era
PHILADELPHIA-March 13, 2006 -- John Chaney is retiring after 24 seasons as Temple's basketball coach, ending a Hall of Fame career in which his temper sometimes got the better of him.
The 74-year-old Chaney, a fiery sideline presence admired as much for his mentoring as his success on the court, guided Temple to five NCAA regional finals and 17 NCAA tournament appearances and was twice the national coach of the year.
This season, Temple (17-14) made the NIT for the fifth straight season, a dramatic decline from when it was an NCAA tournament regular.
"I have said all along that I would know when it would be time to step down and now is that time," Chaney said in a statement. "I want to thank Temple University, its fans and community for allowing me to do what I love for so long. It has never been a job for me, but a passion."
At a news conference announcing his retirement, Chaney wiped away tears from behind dark sunglasses and talked at length about a favorite subject - education's role in helping the poor and disadvantaged.
Chaney has 741 wins as a college coach, including a 516-252 record at Temple in which he won six Atlantic 10 conference titles. He was twice named national coach of the year and was selected Atlantic 10 coach of the year five times.
With his tie pulled down and his shirt hanging out, Chaney was a commanding figure on the court, his raspy voice booming across arenas. Often, as he exhorted his team, he put himself in situations later regretted.
Last season, Chaney seemed on his way out. He inserted a player into a game against Saint Joseph's for the sole purpose of committing hard fouls because he thought the Hawks were using illegal screens. A Saint Joseph's player, John Bryant, ended up with a broken arm after being knocked out of the air. Chaney later apologized and missed five games because of a suspension.
At that game, in which Chaney referred to one of his players as a "goon," he suffered a postgame meltdown, screaming at Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno and defending his actions by referring to himself as "mean" and "ornery."
He was publicly humiliated and listened to the critics calling for him to step down. Ultimately, the university gave him a reprieve.
In 1984, Chaney grabbed George Washington coach Gerry Gimelstob by the shoulders at halftime of a game. In 1994, he had a heated exchange following a game against UMass in which he threatened to kill coach John Calipari. Chaney apologized and was suspended for a game. The two later became friends.
Chaney, who took Cheyney State in suburban Philadelphia to the 1978 Division II national championship, arrived at Temple before the 1982-83 season.
He was a father figure for players who often came to Temple from broken homes, violent neighborhoods and bad schools. With notoriously early morning practices, Chaney talked about life nearly as much as he taught the intricacies of his matchup zone defense. He frequently said his biggest goal simply was to give poor kids a chance to get an education.
"They just want to bounce the ball and dribble the ball, but I talk about things that are going to stay with them for the rest of their lives," Chaney said at Monday's news conference. "Somewhere along the line, it will reverberate and they'll remember it."
His teams did remarkably well considering Chaney couldn't recruit the high school All-Americans who filled the rosters of Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten schools. About the only thing Chaney couldn't achieve was a trip to the Final Four; he was 0-for-5 in regional finals.
Chaney refused to load his schedules with easy teams, and instead traveled to hostile courts to play teams supposedly brimming with talent, believing the grueling schedules got his teams ready for the NCAA tournament.
He showed flashes this season that his Owls could still play with the nation's elite, knocking off two Top 25 teams and playing a competitive game in a loss against No. 1 Duke. The Owls also upset top-seeded George Washington last week in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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