Two Will Be Honored At Ivy Tournament On Saturday
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Ivy League has announced the 16-member inaugural class of Legends of Ivy League Basketball, who have each contributed significantly to—and left a lasting impact on—their respective basketball programs and universities. Yale's selections are former head coaches Joe Vancisin, who guided the men's team for 19 seasons, and Louise O'Neal, who led the women to the first Ivy League championship in school history.
Vancisin coached the Bulldogs to two Ivy League titles and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances. He is the second winningest coach in school history with 206 career victories. Among his 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. Vancisin left Yale in 1975 to become the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) executive director—a role in which he served for 17 years until 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. He received the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, which is the highest and most prestigious honor presented by the hall other than enshrinement. He is also a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted as a contributor in 2011.
Vancisin was also a standout Ivy League athlete, competing in basketball and baseball at Dartmouth. He was the starting point guard on Dartmouth's 1944 Eastern Intercollegiate Championship team that reached the NCAA championship game. He also coached at Dartmouth, Michigan and Minnesota before landing his first and only head coaching gig at Yale.
O'Neal is one of a group of coaching pioneers who paved the way for women's college basketball as we know it today. From 1962-76, O'Neal served as head women's basketball coach at Southern Connecticut State College, where she led her teams to an impressive 144-37 record and eight-straight appearances in the National Women's Collegiate Championships.
She then served three years as the Assistant Director of Athletics and head women's basketball coach at Yale, where she took the Bulldogs from a previous best-finish of fifth place to an Ivy League title in three years. Her Yale teams qualified for postseason play in each of her three seasons at the helm and individual players she coached were selected for the U.S. Olympic Team that won the silver medal in Montreal in 1976, three U.S. National Teams competing at the World Games, the Pan-American Games and the World University Games. O'Neal's final coaching role was as the coach of the U.S. National Team that won the gold medal at the 1979 International Tournament at Squaw Valley.
In 1979, O'Neal left coaching and served as Senior Associate Director of Athletics at Dartmouth College until she became Director of Athletics at Wellesley College in 1990. In 1994, the National Association for Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) selected O'Neal as National Administrator of the Year and in 2004, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) named O'Neal as the winner of its Jostens-Berenson Service Award, recognizing her lifelong commitment and service to the game of women's basketball. O'Neal is also a member of the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and will be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame on June 10, 2017.
Each member of the Ancient Eight is represented by one male and one female honoree, as selected by their university athletic department.
Four legends will be formally honored at halftime of each semifinal game at the 2017 Ivy League Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments on March 11 at The Palestra in Philadelphia.
Vancisin will be recognized during halftime of Yale's game against Harvard on Saturday, while O'Neal's honor will come during the Princeton-Harvard women's game.