Winningest Coach In Bulldog History
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Former Yale basketball coach Joe Vancisin was among eight outstanding coaches, players and contributors inducted Sunday into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Ceremonies were held at the historic Midland Theatre.
Joining Vancisin, who was inducted as a contributor, in the hall's sixth class were players Ralph Sampson of Virginia; North Carolina's James Worthy; Cazzie Russell of Michigan; Chris Mullin of St. John's; coaches Bob Knight and Eddie Sutton; and television sports pioneer Eddie Einhorn.
"This is unbelievable. It is a thrill to be even considered," said Vancisin. "Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect something like this and it never would have happened without the help of a lot of great people. I am just thankful for the opportunity, especially to share this with my entire family."
A Bridgeport, Conn., native, Vancisin coached at Yale for 19 seasons, leading the Bulldogs to two Ivy League titles and two NCAA tournament appearances. He left Yale in 1975 to become the NABC's executive director for 17 years before his retirement in 1992. Under his leadership, the NABC debuted its college all-star game at the NCAA Final Four, elected its first African American president in Georgetown's John Thompson and adopted a code of ethics.
"We had a terrific board of directors and it was a great time when Joe was our leader," said legendary St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca, a presenter for Chris Mullin on Sunday. "He knew what coaches had to deal with because he was a coach himself at Yale and a great player at Dartmouth. He knew the responsibilites and the problems coaches dealt with and he was like a light that we followed. Many people don't realize what a great coach Joe was."
After a standout career at Bridgeport's Bassick High, Vancisin went on to play at Dartmouth, including appearances in the NCAA Final Four. He coached at Dartmouth, Michigan and Minnesota before taking over as head coach at Yale. Among his many notable accomplishments was leading the Elis to the championship of Hawaii's Rainbow Classic, defeating heavily favored LSU and Pete Maravich in the final game.
"The NABC is a lot different but I can remember that Joe and Liz (Mrs. Vancisin) were about all the staff there was for many years. Coaches across the country go to the national convention and Joe and Liz were always able to handle that so well," said inductee Eddie Sutton, former coach at Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State. "In all the meetings when I was on the board, I thought Joe was fantastic. He was very organized and a dear friend who helped with the responsibilities we had as board members. I always have been a great fan of Joe Vancisin."
Photos and story courtesy of NABC Public Relations Director Rick Leddy