John Chaney’s Message Was All the time Clear, in Help of Black Athletes

John Chaney’s Message Was Always Clear, in Support of Black Athletes

The metaphors and stories would find a special resonance in the homes of recruits raised by their grandparents. Those who could knowingly nod at a college degree – more so than basketball – were one way out of poverty.

While visiting a recruit, Chaney asked everyone in the family who had attended college for a show of hands. Without exception the only one would be the view. Chaney willingly took players out for a year because they did not qualify under the rule he protested. Some were like Eddie Jones, who had a long NBA career, and others were like Ernie Pollard, who became a police officer and runs a North Philadelphia Police Athletic League basketball program. Another, Aaron McKie, is now Temple’s trainer.

“When grandparents were at home and they were strong with the recruit, you felt like it was over before it started,” Leibovitz said. “He would be in the kitchen talking about the southern or gumbo recipes. He promised that they would be urged and have the chance to graduate. He would say, “I’m not going to put a lollipop in your mouth, I’m going to train you like a man.”

That old-school sensitivity, however, sometimes wavered across the line.

Chaney made national news when he stormed to a press conference after Temple narrowly lost to Massachusetts and attacked opposing trainer John Calipari shouting “I’ll kill you” before being held back. Years later he was suspended for sending a player into the game to beat up rival St. Joseph’s. This resulted in a St. Joseph’s player breaking his arm in a serious fall, infuriating Hawk’s coach Phil Martelli.

A Philadelphia sports journalist brokered a meeting between the two coaches.

“It was almost like being in a mob movie – they emptied the restaurant and put the two of us behind a screened area,” said Martelli, now an assistant at Michigan. “We said it.”

Chaney, who had publicly said he was upset with the hard screens at St. Joseph’s, explained the real reason to Martelli: A witness in a statement on irregularities in Temple’s program said he had spoken to Martelli. What Chaney didn’t know was that the witness had also said at the time of the deposit that Martelli didn’t know.