Jim Phelan (basketball)

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Jim Phelan
Personal information
Born (1929-03-19) March 19, 1929 (age 90)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Career information
High schoolLa Salle (Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania)
CollegeLa Salle (1948–1951)
NBA draft1951 / Round: 8 / Pick: 77th overall
Selected by the Philadelphia Warriors
Playing career1953–1954
Coaching career1953–2003
Career history
As player:
1953Philadelphia Warriors
1954Pottstown Packers
As coach:
1953–1954Mount St. Mary's (asst.)
1954–2003Mount St. Mary's
Career highlights and awards
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2008

James Joseph Phelan (born March 19, 1929) is a retired collegiate basketball coach. He is best known for his 49-year coaching career at Mount Saint Mary's University. Phelan was a 1951 graduate of La Salle University and played one season for the Philadelphia Warriors of the NBA. He was famous for wearing a bow tie on the sidelines.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Philadelphia, Phelan graduated from La Salle College High School in 1947 and La Salle University in 1951. From 1951 to 1953, during the Korean War, Phelan served in the United States Marine Corps.[2]

Professional playing career[edit]

Selected in the eighth round (77th overall) in the 1951 NBA draft, Phelan played in three games as a reserve for the Philadelphia Warriors in 1953.[3] He then played for the Pottstown Packers in the Eastern League.[2]

Jim Phelan's 600th win ball from Feb 17, 1986
Jim Phelan's 600th win ball from Feb 17, 1986

Coaching career[edit]

Phelan coached his entire career at Mount Saint Mary's University. He led the Mountaineers to the 1962 NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Championship. When he retired in 2003, after coaching for 49 years, he had amassed 830 wins (overall record of 830-524) in over 1,300 games in all divisions. In those 49 years, Phelan had 19 teams that reached 20 or more wins in a season. Prior to the announcement of his induction to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in April 2008, Phelan was often noted for having the most victories of any coach not in the Hall of Fame.[4]

He got his 800th win in the Northeast Conference Championship Game on March 1, 1999.[5] He became just the 4th coach in NCAA history to get 800 career wins; currently he sits 14th on the all-time list. On January 19, 1998, he became just the 2nd coach in NCAA history to coach in 1,200 career games. The only other coach to do so prior was Clarence Gaines. Phelan held the record in games coached with 1,354 across all NCAA divisions and is currently 4th on the all-time list; he is behind Phog Allen and tied with Jim Smith for second place in total career seasons coached with 49, though all 49 of Phelan's and Smith's seasons came at one school while Allen coached at four other institutions besides Kansas, where he gained fame.

Coaching highlights[edit]

  • 830 wins (14th most all time)
  • 1,354 games coached (4th most all time)
  • 5 Final Fours
  • 16 NCAA Division II Tournament Appearances
  • 2 NCAA Division I Tournament Appearances
  • 2 Championship games coached
  • 1962 NCAA Division II Champions
  • 1962 National Coach of the Year

Players coached[edit]

Notable players that Phelan coached include Fred "Mad Dog" Carter, Jack Sullivan, and Jon O'Reilly. The 1962 team won the school's only national championship. Phelan earned his first of two coach of the year awards in '62. In the book, King of the Mount: The Jim Phelan Story, the 1980-1981 season is a highlight.


Collegeinsider.com, in 2003, renamed its coach of year award the "Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award".

Mount Saint Mary's University has also renamed its court "Jim Phelan Court", complete with his years coached and his signature bow tie painted on each end of the court. A new banner was also revealed in the ARCC Arena (MSMU's home court) with a Phelan bow tie and signifying his 830 wins.

The Northeast Conference Coach of the Year award is named after Jim Phelan.

In November 2008, Phelan was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, MO. Other members of his induction class included Nolan Richardson (former coach at the University of Arkansas), Charles Barkley (former Auburn player and NBA veteran), and commentators Billy Packer and Dick Vitale. Phelan said of his induction, "It is an honor to be selected for induction. It's a great feeling to be in such a distinguished group of gentlemen."[6]

Coaching tree[edit]

These former players or assistant coaches to Phelan later became head coaches:

Personal life[edit]

Phelan and his wife Dottie have five children (Jim, Lynne, Carol, Larry and Bobby) and ten grandchildren.

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (Mason–Dixon Conference) (1954–1978)
1954–55 Mount St. Mary's 22–3 14–1
1955–56 Mount St. Mary's 20–8 12–2
1956–57 Mount St. Mary's 27–5 12–1 NCAA College Third Place
1957–58 Mount St. Mary's 16–9 9–3
1958–59 Mount St. Mary's 15–12 8–4
1959–60 Mount St. Mary's 19–6 14–2
1960–61 Mount St. Mary's 26–5 15–0 NCAA College Fourth Place
1961–62 Mount St. Mary's 24–6 12–2 NCAA College Champion
1962–63 Mount St. Mary's 13–12 8–6 NCAA College Regional Fourth Place
1963–64 Mount St. Mary's 18–7 12–3
1964–65 Mount St. Mary's 20–5 15–2
1965–66 Mount St. Mary's 21–6 15–2
1966–67 Mount St. Mary's 18–9 12–4
1967–68 Mount St. Mary's 21–6 15–2
1968–69 Mount St. Mary's 20–8 12–1 1st[7] NCAA College Regional Final
1969–70 Mount St. Mary's 20–6 9–3 NCAA College Regional Fourth Place
1970–71 Mount St. Mary's 10–14 6–6
1971–72 Mount St. Mary's 6–17 5–6
1972–73 Mount St. Mary's 15–10 10–4
1973–74 Mount St. Mary's 17–10 8–5
1974–75 Mount St. Mary's 14–11 7–6
1975–76 Mount St. Mary's 16–12 10–6
1976–77 Mount St. Mary's 9–18 5–7
1977–78 Mount St. Mary's 16–11 7–3
Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (NCAA Division II independent) (1978–1983)
1978–79 Mount St. Mary's 18–10 NCAA D-II First Round
1979–80 Mount St. Mary's 22–7 NCAA D-II First Round
1980–81 Mount St. Mary's 28–3 NCAA Division II Runner-Up
1981–82 Mount St. Mary's 20–8 NCAA Division II First Round
1982–83 Mount St. Mary's 18–9
Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (Mason–Dixon Conference) (1983–1988)
1983–84 Mount St. Mary's 21–9 5–5
1984–85 Mount St. Mary's 28–5 9–3 NCAA D-II Final Four
1985–86 Mount St. Mary's 26–4 11–1 NCAA D-II First Round
1986–87 Mount St. Mary's 26–5 8–2 NCAA Division II First Round
1987–88 Mount St. Mary's 20–8 8–2
Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (NCAA Division I independent) (1988–1989)
1988–89 Mount St. Mary's 12–15
Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (Northeast Conference) (1989–2003)
1989–90 Mount St. Mary's 16–12 10–6 T–3rd
1990–91 Mount St. Mary's 8–19 6–10 6th
1991–92 Mount St. Mary's 6–22 3–13 9th
1992–93 Mount St. Mary's 13–15 10–8 T–3rd
1993–94 Mount St. Mary's 14–14 9–9 T–7th
1994–95 Mount St. Mary's 17–13 12–6 T–2nd NCAA Round of 64
1995–96 Mount St. Mary's 21–8 16–2 1st NIT First Round
1996–97 Mount St. Mary's 14–13 10–8 T–4th
1997–98 Mount St. Mary's 13–15 8–8 5th
1998–99 Mount St. Mary's 15–15 10–10 T–5th NCAA Round of 64
1999–2000 Mount St. Mary's 9–20 7–11 T–7th
2000–01 Mount St. Mary's 7–21 7–13 T–9th
2001–02 Mount St. Mary's 3–24 2–18 12th
2002–03 Mount St. Mary's 11–16 6–12 T–10th
Total: 830–524 (.613)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jim Phelan. Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved on November 24, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Jim Phelan File". Mount St. Mary's University. September 18, 2006. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  3. ^ "James Phelan Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  4. ^ "Jim Phelan Biography". Mount St. Mary's University. September 18, 2006. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  5. ^ "Jim Phelan". Mount St. Mary's University. 2002. Archived from the original on December 30, 2003.
  6. ^ "Jim Phelan To Be Inducted Into The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame". Northeast Conference official site. 7 April 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  7. ^ Menton, Paul (1969), "Mason-Dixon Conference", The Official National Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball Guide, 1970 (74th ed.), Phoenix, Arizona: College Athletics Publishing Service, p. 28

External links[edit]