The only coach to lead Rutgers men’s basketball to the Final Four, Tom Young, passed away this weekend at the age of 89. He is the winningest coach in program history with a 239-117 overall record and .671 winning percentage from 1973-1985.
Young led Rutgers to four NCAA Tournament appearances as well as five NIT appearances. He had 10 wins over ranked opponents, coached eight All-Americans and never had a losing campaign over 12 seasons. Ten of the top 11 scorers in program history played for Young and he had 12 players drafted into the NBA.
He led the Scarlet Knights to a perfect 26-0 record during the 1975-1976 regular season and advanced to the program’s first and only Final Four that season undefeated at 31-0. They ultimately fell to Michigan in the national semifinals and to UCLA in the third place game.
In addition, Rutgers went to the Sweet 16 in 1979 under Young, which is the last time the program has advanced that far into the NCAA Tournament.
During his tenure, he helped to lead the construction of the RAC, now Jersey Mike’s Arena, which opened in 1977.
A graduate of Maryland, Young served as an assistant there after being the head coach at Catholic University for a decade. He left Maryland after two seasons to become head coach at American for four seasons. Young then landed at Rutgers and finished his head coaching career at Old Dominion from 1985-1991. He finished his head coaching career with a 524-328 overall record. His record in the NCAA tournament was 6-6 and 4-4 in the NIT. Young served as an assistant coach under his former point guard, Eddie Jordan, in the NBA with the Washington Wizards from 2003-2007.
“The Rutgers men’s basketball program expresses our deepest sympathies to Tom Young’s family and friends upon his passing,” Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said. “Tom was a pioneer for our program and set the standard for me and our players, past and present. Rutgers fans will remember him as the leader of the best season in Scarlet Knights basketball history. My team will continue to work on and off the court to honor his legacy and contributions to Rutgers basketball.”
”Coach Young was an incredible coach and mentor,” Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs said. “He will undoubtedly be remembered for the success he had on the sidelines leading Rutgers men’s basketball, but his lasting legacy is with the men he nurtured and taught throughout his years as coach. Their success in life is his greatest achievement. We express our deepest condolences to Coach Young’s family and friends, and former players.”
”When Tom got the job at Rutgers I was his first recruit,” Eddie Jordan said. “It started then as a recruit. Coach hired me the day I retired from the NBA and is the reason I got into coaching. He helped me throughout my coaching career as I reached out to him often for advice about game plans. He was instrumental in being an assistant for me when I was the head coach at the Wizards.”
“In 1976 he mentored me as sometimes an undisciplined and slightly reckless student on campus,” Jordan laughed. “He was a father figure to me throughout my entire life. He was a mentor and an assistant for me when I first got my head coaching job in the NBA. When I got my first head coaching job in Sacramento he came out and talked to my guys at training camp. That meant a lot to me.”
”I said my prayers for Tom last night,” the program’s all-time leading scorer Phil Sellers said. “He turned us boys into young men. I give Tom a lot of credit. He took all the guys that Dick Vitale recruited and took us all to the next step. He had no idea what he was getting into, but it didn’t take him very long to lead us to success. Tom trusted in me to lead the team.”
Tom Young led Rutgers men’s basketball to its most successful period in program history and will be fondly remembered forever. May he rest in peace.