The Late Peter A. Carlesimo To Be Honored By University of Scranton
The late Peter A. Carlesimo was many things to many people at The University of Scranton.
During a distinguished career that spanned nearly 25 years, he served as head coach of the football (1944-1960), basketball (1944-1946; 1951-1955), and cross-country (1961-1968) programs, as well as serving as director of athletics (1953-1968). And to the countless number of student-athletes, faculty and staff, and those in the community that he came in contact with, he was more than just a coach and an administrator: he was a friend, humanitarian and father-figure.
His contributions to the rich history of Scranton athletics will be formally recognized at the Royals Annual Award Dinner on Friday, May 6, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the William J. Byron, S.J., Recreation Complex. This dinner has been established to celebrate intercollegiate athletics at the university, to annually honor a person who has made special contributions to the athletics department, and to raise funds for the athletics department and the student-athletes that it serves.
Carlesimo’s son, P.J., a graduate of the Scranton Preparatory School and a highly-successful coach on the collegiate and professional level for more than three decades, will deliver the keynote address.
A native of Newark, New Jersey, and a 1940 graduate of Fordham University, where he played football alongside NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi, the elder Carlesimo moved to Scranton in 1944 after serving as a history teacher and head football coach at his high school alma mater, St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark.
He produced the first of his 10 winning seasons with the football team in 1947 and led the Tommies, who would later be known as the Royals, to an overall record of 80-60 (.571), including a 7-2 mark in 1950 and six-win campaigns in 1947, 1948, 1952, and 1955.
Carlesimo also enjoyed two stints as head basketball coach, taking over the program in 1944, a year after the sport was suspended on many college campuses due to the United States commitment to World War II.
His first team finished with a 12-8 record—the first winning campaign at Scranton since 1941—and from 1951-1955, he coached again, leading the Royals to a 60-78 record. One of his top players during his second tenure was Bob Bessoir, a 6-6 forward from Jersey City, New Jersey, who would eventually return to his alma mater and take over as head basketball coach in 1972, leading Scranton to two NCAA Division III championships.
Carlesimo would eventually return to his college alma mater, Fordham University, and serve as its athletics director from 1968-1978. He would serve on the committee for the National Invitational Tournament, more commonly known as the NIT, and would become the NIT’s first full-time executive director, holding the position for 10 years upon leaving Fordham. He is often recognized for his ability to keep the NIT viable after the explosive growth of the NCAA postseason tournament captured the hearts and minds of basketball fans everywhere. To honor his commitment, the NIT has graciously named its preseason award in his honor.
Other prestigious honors have also come his way.
Carlesimo is a member of The University of Scranton’s Athletic Wall of Wall, the Jesuit Honor Society, the Fordham University Athletic Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, St. Benedict’s Hall of Fame, and the NCAA Athletic Director’s Hall of Fame. He received the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest award and most prestigious honor presented by the Basketball Hall of Fame outside of enshrinement.
He and his wife, the former Lucy Rogan, a native of Olyphant, are the parents of 10 children.
Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased by contacting Robert Davis, capital campaign director, at 570-941-6667, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Corporate and special ticket packages are also available.
Additional information can be found at the following web address: http://www.scranton.edu/royalsawarddinner