Basketball Center Named for Jack Ramsay '49
Monday, June 29, 2009
The Ramsay Basketball Center, named for Hall of Fame coach Dr. Jack Ramsay, was dedicated Friday, June 26, at Saint Joseph's University. The two-story, 20,000 square-foot addition to the former Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse is the first of a multi-phase initiative to expand and enhance the entire athletics and recreation program at Saint Joseph's.
Ramsay, a 1949 graduate of what was then Saint Joseph's College, began his Hall of Fame coaching career when he returned to Hawk Hill for the 1955-56 season. In 11 years on the Saint Joseph's sidelines, the fabled "Dr. Jack" compiled a record of 234-72 (.765 winning percentage) and reached 10 post-season tournaments, including the 1961 Final Four. His 1965-66 Hawks, led by Matt Guokas, Jr., and Cliff Anderson, were named the pre-season No. 1 team in the nation by Sports Illustrated.
Ramsay also mentored five would-be NBA head coaches from Saint Joseph’s — Jack McKinney ’57, Paul Westhead ’61, Jim Lynam ’63, Guokas ’66, and son-in-law Jim O’Brien ’74 — along with future NBA assistants, including the late Jim Boyle ’64. His first position in the professional ranks as general of the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers resulted in a world championship and one of the most dominant teams in NBA history.
Current Saint Joseph's athletic director Don DiJulia '67 played for Ramsay and speaks for hundreds of former players in remembering the man beyond the coach.
"In coaching, he was the Wilt [Chamberlain] of his era," DiJulia said. "In life he is a renaissance man. His parents wanted him to be a medical doctor and he entered Saint Joseph's with that in mind, but he couldn't juggle labs and sports, so he shifted his priorities to teach and coach."
Ramsay went on to coach 20 seasons in the NBA, including stints with the 76ers, Buffalo Braves, Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers. His 1976-77 Portland team captured the NBA championship behind Hall of Fame center Bill Walton.
"The very best coaches are teachers of basketball and life," Walton said. "Jack Ramsay is a Hall of Famer at both. We all loved playing for Dr. Jack, but we loved being with him even more. I can imagine how revered he is at Saint Joseph's, where it all began."
The new Ramsay Center houses the SJU men's and women's basketball programs as well as Sports Media Relations and the Thomas J. Wynne '63 Hall of Fame room. New locker rooms, players lounges, study spaces and video capabilities are a dramatic upgrade over the former Fieldhouse facilities.
In October, the expanded and renovated Fieldhouse will be dedicated as the Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena, with the first men's basketball game scheduled for Friday, November 13, against Drexel University. With the Ramsay Center and Hagan Arena, a new era of Hawk basketball will officially begin.
"All [women's basketball coach] Cindy [Griffin] and I wanted was a chance to sell the best," said SJU men's basketball coach Phil Martelli. "Now we have it."
See also: The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News cover the dedication. Additional coverage, with photo galleries and speech excerpts, on sjuhawks.com.