Feb. 23, 2010
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Herb Magee has passed The General.
No men’s coach at any NCAA level has won more games than the Division II coaching lifer – make it No. 903 for Magee, who has spent 43 years at Philadelphia University. He moved past Hall of Famer Bob Knight to become the winningest men’s coach in NCAA history on Tuesday night.
The 68-year-old Magee set the record with a 76-65 victory over Goldey-Beacom College. Magee has spent 50 years with the school, counting time as a player and assistant coach.
“It’s really hard to win games,” Magee said.
Knight, who declined comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday, won 902 games and three national championships in a 42-year career with Army, Indiana and Texas Tech. Northern State coach Don Meyer, who announced his retirement Monday, has 922 victories between the NAIA and NCAA.
Earlier this season, McKendree University coach Harry Statham notched his 1000th win at the NAIA powerhouse. The only other member of the 1,000-win club is Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt.
Magee led the program to a national championship in 1970.
Fans started bellowing “903! 903!” over the final minutes and students stormed the court in celebration. The fans came dressed in maroon, mostly wearing T-shirts with “Magee” on the back.
After the game, fans and players were given “Property of Coach Magee” T-shirts with “903″ on the front.
“When the game started, you could see the enthusiasm and I’m sure these guys felt it,” Magee said. “I think every student in school was here, along with the faculty and administration. It was amazing, just amazing.”
Villanova coach Jay Wright and Saint Joseph’s athletic director Don DiJulia were among the representatives from the six D-I city schools there to support Magee. Wright almost played for Magee before deciding to play for Bucknell.
Magee has forged a reputation as “Shot Doc” and his flawless jumper has made him a must-have guest for any area summer camp. He has earned the respect of his peers – from Wright to Saint Joe’s Phil Martelli to Temple’s Fran Dunphy – all without leaving the private university of 3,350 students.
Magee ended his playing career with the Rams (then known as Philadelphia Textile) as the school’s leading scorer with 2,235 points. He averaged 29.1 points one season and was a two-time small-college All-America selection.
He bypassed a tryout with the Boston Celtics after they picked him in the 1963 draft and Magee says he’s turned down several lucrative offers at the D-I level and NBA assistant ranks.
He stayed for this moment. Fans set free hundreds of balloons from each corner of the second level of the gym, and streamers and confetti were tossed onto the court.
Magee went into the stands to shake hands and hug family and friends. He was introduced as “the man who should be in the Hall of Fame” before saying a few words to the standing-room only crowd of 2,500.
“This is a wonderful, wonderful night,” Magee said. “Thanks for all your support.”
There were 50 media credential requests – 48 more than for a usual non-milestone home game. Cameramen and photographers were as much a part of the late-game timeout huddles as the Rams.
“I really appreciate all the attention, but I’ll be glad when I don’t have to see you for 4 1/2 years from now, and 1,000 wins,” he said, laughing.
Magee should get there. He has no plans of retiring and says when he does, it will be at the only school he’s called home.
The Rams (23-6, 15-1 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference) opened on a 14-0 run and No. 903 seemed tantalizingly close only a few minutes into the game. They won their 14th straight game – a number Magee was more proud of than 903.
“I knew we’d have a good team because we have good players,” Magee said.
Russell Frederick led the Rams with 24 points. Goldey-Beacom pulled within 10 points late until Malcolm Ingram’s crashing three-point play sparked the Rams the rest of the way and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Ingram, who has seen his share of Magee’s milestone wins, said this one was special.
“This is the biggest one ever,” he said. “Standing room only, everyone’s hyped up.”