Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Herb Magee has been the face of the university’s men’s basketball program for 59 years, first as a student-athlete and then as a coach. In his storied career at the intersection Henry Avenue and School House Lane, Magee has led the program to national prominence and a mainstay as an East Region power.
On July 1, 2017, Philadelphia University integrated with Thomas Jefferson University to become Jefferson. After 50 years as the coach for Philadelphia, Coach Magee began a new chapter with a new team name but the same history and foundation.
As he goes into his 52nd season as the Rams’ head coach, Magee has amassed 1,074 career victories—which ranked second in NCAA Division II men’s basketball and third across all three divisions—and led his teams to 30 NCAA Tournament appearances. The Rams have recorded 35 20+-win seasons and 11 25+-win seasons—including a school-record 30 victories during the 1992-93 campaign. Magee’s teams have been over .500 for 21-straight seasons.
Magee is just one of three coaches in NCAA men’s basketball history to record 1,000 career victories, accomplishing the feat on Feb. 7, 2015 with an 80-60 victory over Post University. He became the fourth men’s basketball coach in NCAA history to coach 50 years, and the third to do it at one school (Jim Smith – 51 – Saint John’s (Minn.), Harry Statham – 50 – McKendree).
His coaching has produced 12 All-Americans, 45 1,000-point scorers and three 2,000-point scorers. In 2007, Christian Burns was selected as the Daktronics NCAA Division II Player of the Year. Since the school joined the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, Magee has had 12 different players named to the CACC Winter All-Academic Team, including three-time honoree Peter Alexis. Al Angelos (1980) and Alexis (2015, 2016) were selected as College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-Americans.
During the national championship 1969-70 season—Magee’s third season as the Rams’ head coach, Philadelphia overcame a 1-2 start to run off 28 consecutive victories on its way to the crown. The Rams won their final 26 contests by a double-figure margin. In the NCAA Tournament, the Rams won their five games by an average of 23.8 points, including a 101-53 thrashing of American International in the quarterfinal round. Philadelphia won the school’s first national title with a 76-65 win over Tennessee State.
In the 2009-10 season that saw the Rams reach the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, Magee won his 903rd career game to pass Bobby Knight for first on the NCAA men’s basketball coaching wins list. The milestone victory came on February 23, 2010 by a 76-65 score over visiting Goldey-Beacom. This achievement came nearly three years to the day, February 1, 2007, that Magee became the Division II men’s basketball wins leader after picking up his 829th win to pass Clarence “Big House” Gaines.
In 2017, Magee coached his “first season” at Jefferson after the school merged with Thomas Jefferson University. The Rams went 21-14 before making a late-season run in the CACC Tournament to win the conference and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It came as Magee’s 30th NCAA coaching appearance. Senior Kaison Randolph became the 55th Ram to score 1,000 career points as he was named to the All-CACC Second Team.
Magee’s accomplishments have led to an impressive list of honors, most notably induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. His induction class included St. John’s men’s basketball head coach and former NBA player Chris Mullin, Stanford women’s basketball head coach Tara VanDerveer, former Kansas State head coach Tex Winter, and former NBA players Dennis Rodman and Arvydas Sabonis.
A member of seven Halls of Fame, Magee is also enshrined in the West Catholic High School Hall of Fame, Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (1979), Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame (1979), Philadelphia University Athletics Hall of Fame (1984), Philadelphia Area Small College Basketball Hall of Fame (2002) and the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame (2008).
In 2005, Magee was selected as a “Guardian of the Game” by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) under its Education core value and was honored at the NCAA Division I Final Four. Two years later, Magee was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philadelphia Sports Congress. The Philadelphia Sports Writers Association tabbed Magee as its “Living Legend” in 2012.
In 1976, Magee earned the NABC Division II Co-Coach of the Year Award along with Puget Sound’s Don Zech. He has also been recognized as the NABC Division II East District Coach of the Year (1971, ’73, ’89, ’93), Kodak District Coach of the Year (1993), Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year (2008, ’10), New York Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (1993, ’94, ’04), and Mideast Collegiate Conference Co-Coach of the Year (twice). In 2016, he received the Joe Lapchick Character Award.
Not only is Magee a tremendous coach, he is also one of the best players to wear a Rams’ uniform. As a guard for then-Philadelphia Textile from 1959 to 1963, Magee poured in 2,235 and averaged a school record 29.1 points per game in the 1961-62 season. Magee—an All-American in 1962 and 1963—led the Rams to a 75-17 record and to the 1963 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.
After Magee graduated from Textile in 1963 with a marketing degree, he was taken by the Boston Celtics with the 62nd pick of that summer’s NBA Entry Draft. Magee chose not to join the Celtics and went back to Textile to serve as an assistant coach under his mentor Walter “Bucky” Harris—a position he held until taking over the program in 1967.
Dubbed “The Shot Doctor”, Magee has worked with numerous NBA players on the art of the jump shot, including 2006 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Charles Barkley, the Denver Nuggets’ Jameer Nelson, and the Boston Celtics’ Evan Turner. He has also produced a pair of instruction DVDs: “Nothing But Net” and “Nothing But Drills”.
Herb Magee Coaching Record
|1967-68||Philadelphia U.||21-6||.778||Second Round|
|1968-69||Philadelphia U.||20-5||.800||First Round|
|1969-70||Philadelphia U.||29-2||.935||National Champion|
|1970-71||Philadelphia U.||22-6||.786||Second Round|
|1971-72||Philadelphia U.||22-7||.759||Second Round|
|1972-73||Philadelphia U.||25-4||.862||Second Round|
|1974-75||Philadelphia U.||21-6||.778||Round of 16|
|1975-76||Philadelphia U.||25-3||.893||Round of 16|
|1976-77||Philadelphia U.||22-6||.786||First Round|
|1977-78||Philadelphia U.||18-10||.643||Round of 16|
|1978-79||Philadelphia U.||20-8||.714||First Round|
|1982-83||Philadelphia U.||23-7||.767||Round of 16|
|1984-85||Philadelphia U.||24-7||.774||Round of 16|
|1988-89||Philadelphia U.||24-7||.774||First Round|
|1990-91||Philadelphia U.||24-8||.750||National Quarterfinals|
|1991-92||Philadelphia U.||28-4||.875||Round of 16|
|1992-93||Philadelphia U.||30-2||.938||National Quarterfinals|
|1993-94||Philadelphia U.||29-2||.935||Round of 16|
|1994-95||Philadelphia U.||26-5||.839||Round of 16|
|2000-01||Philadelphia U.||24-7||.774||Second Round|
|2003-04||Philadelphia U.||26-8||.765||First Round|
|2006-07||Philadelphia U.||20-10||.667||First Round|
|2007-08||Philadelphia U.||22-12||.647||First Round|
|2008-09||Philadelphia U.||25-6||.806||First Round|
|2009-10||Philadelphia U.||27-8||.771||Round of 16|
|2011-12||Philadelphia U.||19-10||.655||First Round|
|2013-14||Philadelphia U.||25-7||.781||First Round|
|2014-15||Philadelphia U.||24-8||.750||First Round|
|2015-16||Philadelphia U.||23-9||.719||First Round|