Jan. 2, 2010

by Pete Spiewak '10

With no men's basketball players elected to the preseason Atlantic 10 All-Conference First, Second, or Third teams, any Hawk will tell you: earning all-conference honors in one sport is a difficult task.

Tom Wynne did it in two.

During his time as a student-athlete at Saint Joseph's, not only was Wynne named to the all-conference team in the Middle Atlantic Conference in both basketball and baseball during the early 1960's, but he won the MAC's most valuable player award for both sports, too.

Typically, Wynne would get off to a slow start during baseball season, but with good reason. Not only would the cold Philadelphia weather in April keep hitters' batting averages low, but Wynne would always join the team workouts and practices much later than his teammates, because during his time on Hawk Hill he was normally busy throughout March--in his three years at the varsity level for legendary head coach Dr. Jack Ramsay, Wynne and his basketball teammates would always be playing well into March, competing in three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including one Final Four appearance and another season that ended just a game shy of reaching the national semi-finals.

"One of the difficult things in life is trying to play two sports in college," Wynne said. "Especially baseball, because we went late in the year in the NCAA tournament for basketball, so I had little time to prepare for baseball."

Wynne was undoubtedly talented enough to pursue some type of professional career in athletics if he chose to--he poured in 19.5 and 18.4 points per game during his junior and senior seasons at Saint Joseph's. In the 1961-62 season, his second as a Hawk, Wynne averaged a double-double.

Even though players were only eligible for three years at the varsity level while he was playing for the Hawks, Wynne ranks 24th on Saint Joseph's all-time scoring list, sandwiched between Pat Carroll and Rashid Bey - two players who know a thing or two about scoring.

Wynne chose not to continue playing sports after graduating, although he was an elite athlete. A member of the Saint Joseph's Athletics Hall of Fame, the two-sport standout was recently inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame's Delaware County Chapter. However, being a part of the Big 5 Hall of Fame may be the most meaningful to Wynne, who rejected offers from bigger schools all over the country to stay local and play in what was one of the most competitive leagues in the nation, the Big 5.

"They call [Saint Joseph's] tiny now, but in the 60's it was truly tiny," he said of the school that had just over 1,000 men at the time. "I had offers from various other schools throughout the country, but I wanted to stay in the area and play in the Big 5 for a Catholic school. [In choosing to play locally] the Big 5 was the catalyst of that decision. All the great Philadelphia players stayed within the city."

As an upperclassman, Wynne was relied upon to be the team's main scoring threat. As a senior, Ramsay named him team captain.

"When you look back, it was something I can take pride in, in terms of the teams we had and my ability to help the teams win by scoring the ball," Wynne, who was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 1978, reminisced. "I take a great deal of pride in what I have accomplished."

As great of an athlete as Wynne was, as it turns out, he made the right choice by entering the business world rather than the sports world after the 1962-63 season, a year in which he led the Hawks to a 23-5 record.

Instead, Wynne would enter the telecommunications industry with MCI and become very successful while the field was booming in the 1980's. He would hold upper-level management positions with several branches of the company, including being the president of a division in Denver, Colorado as well as leading the reformed LCI International company.

For Wynne, he was in the telecommunications industry at the perfect time.

"Telecommunications was moving forward during that time frame, and I really hit a sweet spot in my career," said Wynne.

Years after he became a successful businessman, Wynne was with friend and former teammate Jim Boyle in Portland, Oregon, when they ran into Fr. Michael Barber, S.J., a former team chaplain at Saint Joseph's, who approached Wynne about becoming more involved with the university as an alumnus. At first, Wynne was only somewhat involved with the school, but after spending time in other regions of the country, Wynne returned to the east coast and took a more instrumental role as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Having a stronger bond with the university, and more importantly, having a chance to honor his former coach and Hawk legend Ramsay, Wynne was excited to be able to contribute as one of the lead donors to the renovation of the team's arena and addition of a basketball center.

Knowing first-hand what the facilities at Saint Joseph's were like, Wynne felt it was time for an upgrade, and the perfect time for him to make a donation.

"I can't believe Phil Martelli has been able to recruit with what we had," he said. "I saw the plans for [the renovation] and felt this was an opportunity for me to really get involved. After seeing the plans for Hagan Arena and the Ramsay Center, I thought it was the opportune time to do it."

Attributing his success to the education he received at Saint Joseph's, Wynne, who has been honored in the Ramsay Center by having the Hall of Fame Room named after him, knew he had to give back. And there was no better way to give back than in the name of the man who had such a large impact on him during his time at St. Joe's: Jack Ramsay.

"Being able to contribute to the Ramsay Center being built was a major factor," Wynne said of his decision to donate to Saint Joseph's. "It really came down to trying to honor my former coach, Jack Ramsay."