Dec. 23, 2005
PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph's University basketball is mourning the loss of one of its most well-loved figures as former head coach Jim Boyle passed away this morning at his home in Media, Pa., after a battle with lung cancer.
Boyle, 63, served as head coach of the Hawks from 1981 to 1989, compiling a 151-114 record in nine seasons. "Bo" led the Hawks to post-season play four times, with two trips to the NCAA Tournament and two to the NIT. His victory total is the fourth best in school history.
Boyle had the unique distinction of being a part of Hawk history as a player, an assistant coach and head coach. He had a connection with all of the SJU coaches from the past four decades, including the present. Boyle played for Hall of Famer Dr. Jack Ramsay and served as an assistant coach on the staffs of Jack McKinney, Harry Booth and Jim Lynam. Boyle also worked with John Griffin, when they were assistants to Lynam. Then during his tenure as head coach, Boyle hired current SJU mentor Phil Martelli as an assistant coach.
"This is a loss obviously for the Saint Joseph's basketball community. There are few who spanned from Jack Ramsay to the current teams. 'Bo' had a love for St. Joe's basketball and had a unique perspective on the challenges, the joys and the tribulations," said Martelli, who played at Widener University when Boyle was an assistant coach there in the early 1970's.
"On a personal level, this is a difficult time to lose a mentor and a very, very, very dear friend. Jim Boyle gave me the opportunity to enter college basketball in 1985 and I will be forever grateful. I will work every day to make him proud of the coach that I am and that I will become," Martelli said. "Saint Joseph's has never had a better representative than Jim Boyle."
Boyle's 1985-86 team posted 26 wins, which at that time was a school record, and won the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season and tournament championships. The squad reached the NCAA Second Round while he was named the Coach of the Year in both the Atlantic 10 and the Big 5.
All told, Boyle led the Hawks to two conference tournament titles (1 East Coast Conference, 1 Atlantic 10), two regular-season conference titles, six in-season tournament championships, and two Big 5 first-place finishes.
"Jim is a dear friend who I will terribly miss," said Lynam, the current assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, who has known Boyle since their elementary school days in West Philadelphia. Lynam and Philadelphia University coaching legend Herb Magee were teammates with Boyle on the West Catholic High School team that won the 1959 city title.
As a player, the native of Philadelphia was known for his tough defensive play, but was also one of the top playmaking forwards in Hawk history, ranking 11th on the all-time list for assists. The team co-captain as a senior in 1963-64, he averaged 11.6 points per game during his career. He was the squad's top rebounder in his junior season and his total of 627 career rebounds ranks 23rd on the all-time list. He graduated from the University in 1964.
He was inducted into Saint Joseph's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 1997.
Boyle's coaching career also included an assistant coaching stint with the NBA's Denver Nuggets in the 1990's where he served on the staff with Paul Westhead, another former Hawk assistant.
Boyle's bond to the University is one of the most unique connections ever to the Saint Joseph's family tree. His wife, Tess, is a graduate of the University and was the first female to serve as president of the Alumni Association. Of their four children - Kevin (deceased), Jim, Jr., Kelly and Tracie - three are SJU alumni. Jim, Jr. served as the Hawk mascot and married Jim Lynam's daughter, Kathy. Kelly received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from SJU, coached the Hawk cheerleaders and married Mike Doyle, who was an assistant coach under Boyle. Tracie also received two degrees from SJU and married Brian Daly, who played for Boyle, and now coaches Boyle's grandson Brian at Monsignor Bonner High School. Referring to Kevin, who played basketball at Harvard, Boyle would often say, "Kevin could not get into Saint Joseph's, so he went to Harvard".
Visitation is Tuesday, Dec. 27 from 6 to 9 p.m. and Wednesday, Dec. 28 from 9 to 10 a.m. at O'Leary's Funeral Home (642 E. Springfield Rd., Springfield, PA 19064, 610-259-1959. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 11 a.m. at St. Denis Catholic Church (Eagle Rd and St. Denis Lane, Havertown, PA 19083) The Internment is private.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Jim Boyle's name are welcome to: Friends of Brian, 24 Rose Tree Village, Media, PA 19063; Kevin Boyle Memorial Fund, 248 Ellis Rd., Havertown, PA 19083; or Coaches vs. Cancer, c/o Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph's University, 5600 City Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19131