Campanelli played a significant role in Pac-10 men's basketball, having served as head basketball coach at California for eight years from 1985-93. He compiled a record of 123-108 (.532) and led the Bears to post-season play on four occasions. In his first season, he led Cal to the 1986 National Invitation Tournament--the school's first postseason bid of any kind since 1960. In 1990, he led the Bears to their first NCAA Tournament in 30 years.
Campanelli was abruptly fired on February 8, 1993 with 10 games to go in the 1992-93 season. Athletic director Bob Bockrath inadvertently heard Campanelli give profanity-laced lectures to his players following losses to Arizona State and Arizona. Several players had complained to Bockrath about his abrasive coaching style, but Bockrath said he had no idea just how "beaten down" the players had been until then.
Prior to arriving at California, Campanelli was head coach at James Madison for 13 years (1973–85) where he guided the Dukes to a record of 238-118 and five NCAA Tournament appearances. His 21-year head coaching record stands at 361-226 (.615).
In 2015, Campanelli write a book titled Dare to Dream: How James Madison University Became Coed and Shocked the Basketball World about his dream of becoming a college basketball coach and his accomplishment of growing the all-girl Madison college athletics program into a successful men's NCAA basketball team.
He has also coached one year in the Japan Pro League, spent several years as an advance scout for the National Basketball Association's Cleveland Cavaliers and New Jersey Nets, and served as Commissioner of Pac 10 Officiating.
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