College Basketball Hall of Famer and 1985 NCAA National Championship coach Rollie Massimino has died following a battle with lung cancer. The coach was 82 years old.
Massimino is a Big East legend; a NJ native who took over an independent Villanova program in 1973 and was instrumental in making the Big East one of the premier basketball conferences in the 1980’s and beyond. His Wildcats shocked the basketball world in 1985 as an 8-seed in the NCAA Tournament, upsetting heavily-favored Georgetown in the first. That team remains the lowest-seeded team to cut down the NCAA title net.
For the past eleven seasons, Massimino had been coaching – with great success – the Northwood/Keiser Seahawks in the NAIA Division II Florida Sun Conference. He achieved his milestone 800th career win in December of 2016 with a victory over Trinity Baptist.
Despite the cancer diagnosis, Massimino was present the April 2016 National Championship game in Houston as Villanova won its second ever NCAA title in thrilling fashion over North Carolina. The Wildcats are coached by Jay Wright, a former Nova assistant under Massimino. Wright had this to say Wednesday about his former mentor: “he was just an incredible force on this Earth.”
Massimino passed away at home in West Palm Beach, FL. He is survived by his wife Mary Jane, his five children and thirteen grandchildren.