LIVE

"Our hearts are broken," the Temple Owls wrote on Twitter.

By Katie Campione
January 29, 2021 06:35 PM
Advertisement
Coach John Chaney
Credit: Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

Hall of Fame basketball coach John Chaney has died at the age of 89.

Temple University, where Chaney spent 24 seasons and led the men's basketball team to 17 NCAA tournament appearances, announced Friday that he died following a short, unnamed illness.

Chaney celebrated his 89th birthday last week.

"Our hearts are broken," the Temple Owls wrote on Twitter. "Rest in Peace, Coach."

As the Owls head coach, Chaney was twice named the national Division I coach of the year, and his 1987–88 team ended the season ranked No. 1 in the country, according to the university.

From his arrival at Temple in 1982 until his retirement, Chaney led 23 of his 24 teams to postseason tournaments. From 1984 to 1988, the Owls earned five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

Chaney was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He won 516 games at Temple and 741 games overall, according to ESPN.

He still ranks among the top 40 college basketball coaches in terms of career wins. He was the first Black coach to reach 700 wins.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

He retired in 2006, but remained close to the athletic department as a friend and advisor, the university says.

"John Chaney was a great coach, but he was so much more. For generations of Temple University students, he was a wise counselor, a dedicated teacher,  an icon of success, and a passionate leader who always led by example and with conviction," Temple President Richard Englert said in a statement. "I am also honored to say he was a dear friend."

Basketball coaches, teams and players across the nation mourned Chaney's death.

"I'm so saddened to hear that we have lost John Chaney, a coaching icon, a Hall of Famer, a molder of young men, the ultimate competitor and a dear friend," University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari — who has been friends with Chaney for decades following an intra-conference rivalry earlier in their careers — wrote on Twitter.

"Being able to compete against the best at a young age gave me a great opportunity to grown and learn."

He continued: "Coach Chaney's ability to coach hard, yet build trust and teach life lessons, is unmatched in our profession, in my opinion. Although we were competitors, it's what I admired most about him."

The Philadelphia 76ers also paid tribute to the legendary coach.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Philadelphia basketball legend John Chaney," the team wrote. "Coach Chaney was a giant in our sport, taking Temple to five Elite Eights and eventually being inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame."

"He was one of the preeminent Black coaches in the game, and more than that, he was a mentor and father figure to countless players and coaches in our city," the team added. "Our sincerest condolences go out to the Chaney family and the Temple basketball community. He will be missed."