Former Villanova coach dies at 82
Massimino led team to ’85 hoops crown
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Rollie Massimino, who led Villanova’s storied run to the 1985 NCAA basketball championship and won more than 800 games in his coaching career, died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 82.
Massimino’s death was announced by Keiser University, where he was still the men’s basketball coach. He spent the final days of his life in hospice care.
Best known for that title at Villanova, Massimino also coached at Stony Brook, UNLV and Cleveland State. He spent the last 11 years of his life at Keiser, where he started the program and turned it into an NAIA power.
“We are so truly honored to have shared this time with him and take some degree of comfort in knowing the positive impact he has had on college students for the last four decades remains
immeasurable,” Keiser Chancellor Arthur Keiser said.
Massimino faced numerous health issues in recent years yet never stopped coaching. And even though he left Villanova 25 years ago, he was still considered family by the Wildcats and coach Jay Wright.
“When you’re a young coach and you grow up in Philly, Rollie Massimino is a legend to you,” Wright said.
Roland Vincent Massimino was born Nov. 13, 1934, in New Jersey, played his college basketball at Vermont and got his master’s degree from Rutgers. His first head coaching job was at his alma mater, Hillside High School, in 1962. His college coaching career started at Stony Brook in 1969, and after two seasons he became an assistant at Penn — under Chuck Daly.
The pinnacle of Massimino’s career came when his Wildcats upset the Hoyas for the national crown.
“This is the greatest thing to ever happen to me,” Massimino said that night.
Massimino took Keiser to the NAIA national tournament nine times in his 11 seasons.
He was coaching until the end, stomping on the sideline when angry with referees, doing the same pregame rituals last season as he did 30 years ago.
Massimino is survived by his wife and five children.