University Names Annual Athletic Awards Dinner in Honor of Peter Carlesimo

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The University of Scranton named its annual Athletic Award banquet, which was held this past weekend, in honor of the late Peter A. Carlesimo, a longtime coach and athletic director at Scranton.

The University of Scranton named its annual Athletic Award dinner in honor of the late Peter A. Carlesimo, who served the University for nearly 25 years as head coach of the football (1944-1950), basketball (1944-1946; 1951-1955) and cross-country (1953-1968) programs and as director of athletics (1953-1968). 

More than 400 attended the event on May 6, in the William J. Byron, S.J., Recreation Complex. The dinner was established to celebrate intercollegiate athletics at Scranton, 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. The event helped raise $135,000 for student-athletics at Scranton.

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, delivered the keynote address.

A native of Newark, N.J., 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 squad 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 served twice 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. He also coached the basketball team again from 1951-1955. One of his top players during his second tenure was Bob Bessoir, 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 eventually returned to his college alma mater, Fordham University, and served as its athletics director from 1968-1978. He served on the committee for the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) and became its 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.

Carlesimo is a member of The University of Scranton’s Athletic Wall of Fame, 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.

For more on the annual Athletic Award banquet, read The Times-Tribune's article found here.