Tom Gola

Tom Gola (1933-2014)

Teams coached: La Salle Explorers
La Salle record: 37-13 (.740)
Overall record: 37-13 (.740)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  0


Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1968-1970 La Salle

Tom Gola Facts

  • Thomas Joseph Gola
  • Born January 13, 1933
  • Died January 26, 2014
  • Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Alma Mater: La Salle College (BA, 1955)
  • Graduated from La Salle College HS (PA) before playing for the Explorers and head coach Ken Loeffler
    • Gola was a star at La Salle, earning First-Team All-America honors three times and winning NCAA Tournament MOP in 1954
    • As a freshman in 1952, Gola played on the varsity team and helped the squad win the NIT Championship
    • The 1953-54 season was the most memorable, as La Salle went 26-4 and won the NCAA National Championship
    • Returned to the national title game as a senior in 1955 but lost to Bill Russell and San Francisco
    • Given the nickname “Mr. All-Around,” Gola’s 2,201 career rebounds is still the NCAA record (as of Feb 2023)
    • His jersey #15 is retired by La Salle and the team plays in Tom Gola Arena, built in 1998
  • Gola was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1955 and played for the franchise for 6+ seasons
    • Missed the 1956-57 season as he was serving as a specialist in the United States Army
    • Midway through the team’s first year in San Francisco, Gola was traded to the New York Knicks where he played 3+ more seasons
    • Won a NBA Championship as a rookie with Philly in 1956; was a 5x NBA All-Star (1960-64) and Second-Team All-NBA in 1958
    • Head coaches he played for include George Senesky, Al Cervi, Neil Johnston, Frank McGuire, Bob Feerick, Eddie Donovan, Harry Gallatin and Dick McGuire
    • Gola finished his career with 7,871 points, 5,617 rebounds and 2,962 assists in 698 games
  • After his playing career, he briefly went into coaching at alma mater, La Salle; went 37-13 in two seasons at the helm
  • He was elected to the Pennsylvania State House in 1968, the same year he became head coach at La Salle, and served the newly-created 170th district as a Republican for one year (January 1969-January 1970)
    • Became Philadelphia’s City Controller in 1970, serving for one four-year term but losing a bid for re-election in 1973
    • Later ran for Mayor of Philadelphia in 1983 but was defeated in the primary and did not make the final ballot
  • Inducted as a player into both the Naismith Basketball HOF (c/o 1976) and the National College Basketball HOF (c/o 2006)
    • Gola is also in the La Salle Hall of Athletes (1961), National Polish American Sports HOF (1977) and Big 5 HOF (1986)
  • Passed away in 2014 at age 81; survived by his wife, Caroline, and their son, Thomas

Tom Gola Coaching Tree