Pete Newell Memorial

Coaching Icon Pete Newell Passes Away

Nov. 17, 2008

He led Cal to the 1959 NCAA title and U.S. to Olympic gold in 1960

BERKELEY - Pete Newell, one of the basketball's most respected and beloved figures who led California to the 1959 NCAA championship, passed away Monday after a long illness. He was 93.

Head coach of the Golden Bears from 1954-60, Newell guided Cal to four consecutive conference titles (1957-60) and was voted National Coach of the Year in 1960. He finished his Cal career with a 119-44 record, which included an NCAA runner-up finish in '60 in addition to the 1959 title.

Newell also led the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal at the 1960 Games in Rome with a squad that featured former Cal center Darrall Imhoff as well as such future NBA standouts as Oscar Robertson and Jerry West. He later served as Cal's Director of Athletics from 1960-68.

"We've lost one of the true coaching legends of our time," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. "Pete Newell was not only a coaching icon, but he was an example to all of us of what an incredible impact our coaches and educators can have on our young men and young women. He was a gentleman, a leader and a teacher. All of us in the Golden Bear family have heavy hearts today. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

On Dec. 21, 1987, the playing surface at Harmon Gym (now Haas Pavilion) was renamed "Pete Newell Court" in his honor. A statue of Newell, created by renowned sculptor Eino, was installed in the Haas Pavilion Club Room in the fall of 2006.

Newell was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978 and was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame a year later.

"I knew Pete fairly well," Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said. "Pete was a great ambassador for basketball in general, a very gracious man. He was good to everybody, had time for everybody and has had a tremendous influence on the game of basketball. I think the game of basketball has lost a great friend."

Born Aug. 31, 1915, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Newell played college basketball at Loyola in Los Angeles. He began his collegiate coaching career at San Francisco in 1946, and he led the Dons to the 1949 National Invitation Tournament title.

After a stint at Michigan State from 1950-54, Newell returned to the West Coast to take over the Cal program.

Combining his NIT crown at USF, NCAA championship at Cal and Olympic gold medal in 1960, he is one of only three men in history to attain this "Triple Crown" of coaching.

After leaving Cal in 1968, Newell worked in the front office of several NBA teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers where was instrumental in the trade that brought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar over from the Milwaukee Bucks. He later began his long-running and widely acclaimed Big Man Camps for collegiate and professional players. Since 2000, the National Association of Basketball Coaches has presented the Pete Newell Big Man Award in his honor.

The Basketball Hall of Fame describes Newell as a person with "an amazing aptitude for evaluating talent and creating innovative coaching techniques. A master tactician, Newell established a system of tight, aggressive defense combined with a disciplined, patterned offense ... Through his coaching seminars, film programs, clinics, and Big Man Camp, Pete has brought his uncanny ability to teach basketball worldwide. In retirement, Newell has served the NBA as a scout, general manager, and director of player development. Considered `America's Basketball Guru,' Newell is the man who dozens of pros seek when they need an expert opinion."

Regarded as one of the finest basketball coaches in the history of the sport ...coached the Bears to the NCAA title in 1959, defeating West Virginia in the finals ...compiled a 25-4 record that season, including a PCC title with a 14-2 record...the Bears finished second in the nation in 1960 after a 28-2 season, losing to Cincinnati in the NCAA finals...had a career record of 119-44, including three 20-win seasons... his last two teams won 44 of their last 46 games...was the head coach of the 1960 Olympic team and led the U.S. squad to a gold medal...was named the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978...honored on Dec. 21, 1987 with the renaming of the playing surface at Harmon Gym as "Pete Newell Court" in his honor and the floor at Haas Pavilion still bears that name.

There was a special tribute to Newell before the Cal-USF game, on November 18 in Haas Pavilion.

The family of former Cal basketball coach Pete Newell has announced plans for his funeral, and two additional ceremonies honoring the Hall of Famer have been scheduled - one in Berkeley and one in Los Angeles.

A funeral mass was held on Monday, Nov. 24 at 11 a.m. at the Church of Nativity at 6309 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.

The first of two events celebrating Newell's life will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 3 in the Pauley Ballroom on the Cal campus, starting at 5 p.m. It will include tributes to Newell as well as a video, and will precede Cal's basketball game vs. DePaul, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in Haas Pavilion later that night.

In addition, there will be a memorial service/testimonial at 9 a.m. on Dec. 15 at the Sacred Heart Chapel on the Loyola Marymount campus, Newell's alma mater.

Family and friends are welcome to all three ceremonies. 

The Newell family has requested that donations in Pete Newell's memory be made to the Pete Newell Scholarship Fund at the University of California.

Please make checks payable to: The Pete Newell Scholarship Fund 
and mail to: 
The Pete Newell Scholarship Fund
c/o University of California Athletics
195 Haas Pavilion
Berkeley, CA 94720-4422. 





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