Rollie Massimino

Roland Vincent Massimino (November 13, 1934 – August 30, 2017) was an American basketball coach. He served as the head men's basketball coach at Stony Brook University (1969–1971), Villanova University (1973–1992), the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (1992–1994), Cleveland State University (1996–2003), and at Northwood University's Florida campus, which was sold in 2014 to Keiser University (2006–2017).

Rollie Massimino
Rollie Massimino - 2009 03 21 in Philadelphia.jpg
Massimino in Philadelphia on March 21, 2009
Biographical details
Born(1934-11-13)November 13, 1934
Hillside, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedAugust 30, 2017(2017-08-30) (aged 82)
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1956–1959Cranford HS (assistant)
1959–1963Hillside HS
1963–1969Lexington HS
1969–1971Stony Brook
1972–1973Penn (assistant)
1996–2003Cleveland State
2006–2017Northwood (FL) / Keiser
Head coaching record
Overall816–462 (college)
160–61 (high school)
Tournaments0–2 (NCAA College Division)
21–10 (NCAA Division I)
4–5 (NIT)
11–7 (NAIA Division II)
Accomplishments and honors
NCAA Division I tournament (1985)
Eastern 8 regular season (1978–1980)
Eastern 8 tournament (1978, 1980)
Big East regular season (1982, 1983)
Sun Conference regular season (2007–2009, 2011–2013, 2016)
3× Sun Conference tournament (2010, 2012, 2014)
2× Eastern 8 Coach of the Year (1977, 1979)
Big East Coach of the Year (1982)
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2013

At Villanova, he led his 1984–85 team to the NCAA championship. Entering the 1985 NCAA tournament as an eight seed, Villanova defeated their heavily favored Big East Conference foe, the Georgetown Hoyas, in the title game. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest upsets in NCAA history.[1]


Roland Massimino graduated in 1952 from Hillside High School in Hillside, New Jersey. In 1956, he earned a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Vermont (UVM), where he played varsity basketball for three years. He earned a master's degree equivalent in health and physical education from Rutgers University in 1959. While he was a student at UVM, he became a member of the Alpha-Lambda chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.[2]

Coaching careerEdit

High schoolEdit

After graduating from UVM, Massimino entered the coaching ranks, where he coached varsity baseball and freshman and JV basketball at Cranford High School in Cranford, New Jersey. In 1959, he began a four-year tenure as head varsity basketball coach at Hillside High School in Hillside, New Jersey, the town in which he had grown up. In his second year as head basketball coach at Hillside, he led his team to the finals of the State Group III Championship. They lost a tightly contested final game to Burlington High School from Burlington, New Jersey. The Hillside team was led by Frank Checorski, a unanimous Top-Five All-State Selection throughout The Garden State.[3]

In 1963, with the support of high school All-American Bill Schutsky—who later captained the Army Cadets basketball team—Massimino led the Comets to the state Group IV finals. In both seasons, Hillside was defeated in the final playoff game by Newark's Central High School. The Comets lost during both years to a team composed of taller players, despite pushing the thrilling 1963 championship game into double-overtime.

For the 1963–64 season, Massimino moved to Lexington High School in Massachusetts. In 1965, he led the Lexington squad to a state championship and later led another to a 20–1 record. Along the way, Massimino was laying the foundation for an elite scholastic program which later dominated the Middlesex League, winning state titles in 1971, 1972, and 1978 along with league championships in 16 of the past 30 years.

In ten seasons as a high school coach, Massimino compiled a 160–61 record.[4]


Massimino's collegiate debut came in 1969 as head coach of Stony Brook University. In his first season the Patriots (now Seawolves) won the conference championship after going 19–6, earning a berth in the NCAA small college tournament. Massimino's next stop was as an assistant coach under Chuck Daly at the University of Pennsylvania.

Massimino left Penn in March 1973, succeeding Jack Kraft as head coach of Villanova and leading the 1984-85 Wildcats team to one of the greatest upsets in NCAA tournament history by knocking off top-seeded Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) in the 1985 NCAA Tournament Championship Game. The road to the finals proved an even greater challenge, kicking off with a win on #9-seed Dayton's home court, followed by victories over #1-seed Michigan, #4-seed Maryland, #2-seed North Carolina, before culminating in a Final Four victory over #2-seeded Memphis State.

After Villanova's unexpected championship run, Massimino was offered the head coaching position of the NBA's New Jersey Nets. At the last minute, he declined the offer to stay at Villanova and devote more time to his family.

After a few subpar years, Massimino left Villanova in 1992 to assume the head coaching job at UNLV. The initial hope was that he could restore the success and credibility of the UNLV program after the basketball team's 1991–92 probation and the forced resignation of long-time coach Jerry Tarkanian. Two years later, Massimino was himself forced out when it was revealed that he and UNLV president Robert Maxson had cut a side deal to lift Massimino's salary above the figure being reported to the state of Nevada and the state commission ruled that this had violated both state ethics laws, as well as UNLV rules.

Moving on to Cleveland State University in 1996, Massimino's teams recorded a 90–113 record in his seven seasons as coach. Massimino's contract was bought out following a series of off-court issues. These included several players with drug and alcohol problems, other players arrested for serious crimes, and allegations of academic fraud.[5]

Massimino was the head coach of the men's basketball team at Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida, members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Massimino continued his role as coach when Northwood University sold its Florida campus to Keiser University. The 2005-06 Northwood team coached by Massimino was its inaugural season in The Sun Conference. In his first four seasons with the Seahawks, Massimino led Northwood to four FSC regular-season titles, four appearances in the NAIA National tournament, and the Seahawks reached the Elite Eight in 2008. Massimino and the Seahawks received bids to the NAIA tournament in all of his eight seasons at Northwood, and once as Keiser, with the team's best finishes a place in the national semifinals in 2011 and a national runner-up finish in 2012. Massimino's overall record at Northwood/Keiser stands at 298–75 (.799 winning percentage).

On November 1, 2012, Massimino returned to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky for the first time since his 1985 championship triumph, playing a preseason exhibition game against reigning NCAA Division I champions Kentucky. The game was played at the request of Massimino after indicating to Kentucky head coach John Calipari that the 2012–13 season could be his last in coaching. In a later interview, Massimino hedged somewhat, saying, "I don't know if it's my last [season]. I hope I can go another year or so."[6] Kentucky introduced Massimino with a video montage of the final minutes of Villanova's 1985 victory.[7]

On December 14, 2016, Massimino, at 82 years old, reached coaching win number 800 when Keiser University defeated Trinity Baptist 77–47.

Fox Sports released a 2018 television documentary titled The Maestro: The Rollie Massimino Story, written and directed by Bill Raftery, which chronicles Massimino's final season (2016–17) coaching Keiser University. Massimino coached the season, against his doctors' recommendation, while battling terminal cancer.[8]


Massimino was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and brain cancer in April 2016 and given one year to live.[8] Coincidentally, he was at NRG Stadium in Houston in April 2016 to see Villanova win the NCAA tournament. Massimino died sixteen months later on August 30, 2017.[9][10] To honor Massimino's memory, Villanova wore throwback uniforms throughout 2017–18 in the style of those the Wildcats did during their 1984–85 championship season.

Head coaching recordEdit

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Stony Brook Patriots (Knickerbocker Conference) (1969–1971)
1969–70 Stony Brook 19–4 8–0[11] 1st NCAA College Division first round
1970–71 Stony Brook 15–10 7–2[11] 2nd
Stony Brook: 34–14 (.708) 15–2 (.882)
Villanova Wildcats (NCAA Division I independent) (1973–1976)
1973–74 Villanova 7–19
1974–75 Villanova 9–18
1975–76 Villanova 16–11
Villanova Wildcats (Eastern Collegiate Basketball League / Eastern Athletic Association) (1976–1980)
1976–77 Villanova 23–10 6–1 2nd (East) NIT Third Place
1977–78 Villanova 23–9 7–3 T–1st (East) NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1978–79 Villanova 13–13 9–1 1st (East)
1979–80 Villanova 23–8 7–3 T–1st (East) NCAA Division I second round
Villanova Wildcats (Big East Conference) (1980–1992)
1980–81 Villanova 20–11 8–6 T–3rd NCAA Division I second round
1981–82 Villanova 22–8 11–3 1st NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1982–83 Villanova 24–8 12–4 T–1st NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1983–84 Villanova 19–12 12–4 T–2nd NCAA Division I second round
1984–85 Villanova 25–10 9–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I champions
1985–86 Villanova 23–14 10–6 4th NCAA Division I second round
1986–87 Villanova 15–16 6–10 6th
1987–88 Villanova 24–13 9–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1988–89 Villanova 18–16 7–9 T–5th NIT quarterfinal
1989–90 Villanova 18–15 8–8 T–5th NCAA Division I first round
1990–91 Villanova 17–15 7–9 T–7th NCAA Division I second round
1991–92 Villanova 14–15 11–7 4th NIT first round
Villanova: 355–241 (.596) 139–88 (.612)
UNLV Runnin' Rebels (Big West Conference) (1992–1994)
1992–93 UNLV 21–8 13–5 2nd NIT first round
1993–94 UNLV 15–13 10–8 T–5th
UNLV: 36–21 (.632) 23–13 (.639)
Cleveland State Vikings (Midwestern Collegiate Conference / Horizon League) (1996–2003)
1996–97 Cleveland State 9–19 6–10 T–6th
1997–98 Cleveland State 12–15 6–8 T–5th
1998–99 Cleveland State 14–14 6–8 5th
1999–00 Cleveland State 16–14 9–5 2nd
2000–01 Cleveland State 19–13 9–5 3rd
2001–02 Cleveland State 12–16 6–10 7th
2002–03 Cleveland State 8–22 3–13 9th
Cleveland State: 90–113 (.443) 51–67 (.432)
Northwood/Keiser Seahawks (Florida Sun Conference / Sun Conference) (2006–2017)
2006–07 Northwood 23–9 9–3[12] 1st[13] NAIA Division II first round
2007–08 Northwood 27–8 12–2[12] 1st[14] NAIA Division II quarterfinal
2008–09 Northwood 27–6 11–3 1st[15] NAIA Division II second round
2009–10 Northwood 27–7 12–4 2nd[16] NAIA Division II first round
2010–11 Northwood 33–4 16–0 1st NAIA Division II semifinal
2011–12 Northwood 34–4 14–2 T–1st[17] NAIA Division II Runner-up
2012–13 Northwood 30–4 14–2 1st NAIA Division II first round
2013–14 Northwood 26–7 14–4[18] T–2nd[19] NAIA Division II first round
2014–15 Keiser 18–12 10–8[20] T–3rd
2015–16 Keiser 30–5 14–2[21] 1st NAIA Division II quarterfinal
2016–17 Keiser 23–9 9–7 4th
Northwood/Keiser: 298–75 (.799) 135–37 (.785)
Total: 816–462 (.638)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Carey, Jack (March 15, 2010). "Efficient '85 Villanova team mounted tourney's greatest upset". USA Today. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  2. ^ The Ariel. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont. 1954. pp. 200–201.
  3. ^ "Keiser University Bio". Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  4. ^ "The New Jersey Nets are expected to announce Rollie..." 19 June 1985. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Latest probe can't take away Massimino's greatness, can it? - NCAA Di…". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013.
  6. ^ Tipton, Jerry (October 31, 2012). "UK notes: Massimino revisits site of "historic moment"". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  7. ^ "Kentucky Rolls Past Northwood in Exhibition". University of Kentucky Athletics. Associated Press. November 1, 2012. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Hour-Long Original Documentary Chronicles Massimino's Final Season Coaching NAIA Division II Keiser University". Fox Sports. February 27, 2018. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  9. ^ Staff (2017-08-30). "Keiser University men's basketball coach Rollie Massimino dies at age 82". Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  10. ^ Jeff Goodman (2017-08-30). "Coaching legend Rollie Massimino dies at 82". Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  11. ^ a b "2014-15 stony brook men's basketball record book" (PDF). Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b "2013-14 Northwood (Fla.) Men's Basketball Media Guide". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  13. ^ "The Sun Conference - 2006-07 Men's Basketball Standings". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  14. ^ "The Sun Conference - 2007-08 Men's Basketball Standings". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  15. ^ "The Sun Conference - 2008-09 Men's Basketball Standings". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  16. ^ "The Sun Conference - 2009-10 Men's Basketball Standings". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  17. ^ "The Sun Conference - 2011-12 Standings". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  18. ^ "2013-14 Seahawks Men's Basketball Schedule - Northwood University Athletics (Florida)". 7 November 2014. Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  19. ^ "The Sun Conference - 2013-14 Men's Basketball Standings". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  20. ^ "2014-15 Seahawks Men's Basketball Schedule - Northwood University Athletics (Florida)". 7 May 2015. Archived from the original on 7 May 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  21. ^ "#8 Men's Basketball Outright TSC Champions". Keiser University. Retrieved 11 April 2018.

External linksEdit