March 26, 2008
Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Ben Carnevale passed peacefully from his life on March 25, 2008 at the age of 92.
He was born Bernard Louis Carnevale on October 30, 1915 in Raritan, N.J., the son of Alexander and Amelia Carnevale.
He had a lifetime impact on the sport of basketball. His dad took him to his first game in 1921 and that started a lifelong involvement. Ben was involved in collegiate athletics from the 1930s as a member of the 1935 national championship New York University basketball team. He played in the first National Invitational Basketball Tournament in Madison Square Garden in 1938. He played two years of professional basketball with the Jersey Reds and, shortly after, he embarked on a coaching career that began at the high school level before he accepted the head coaching job at the University of North Carolina. After compiling a 51-11 record and guiding the Tar Heels to an NCAA championship game in two seasons, he accepted the same position at the U.S. Naval Academy. During his 20 year stay at the Academy, he became the school's winningest coach (257-160) and made six post-season tournament appearances, despite the fact that regulations did not permit any player to be taller than 6'5". He was named National Coach of the Year in 1947.
His basketball and athletic involvement had another side. He was chairman of the United States Olympic Committee (Basketball) 1964-1968 and a committee member for 20 years, president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, chairman and member of the NCAA Basketball Tournament Committee, president of the NIT, president of the International Basketball Board, and president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He was inducted into the Helms Hall of Fame in 1966, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970 and the New York University Sports Hall of Fame in l976. He served as Director of Athletics at NYU from 1966 to 1972 and in the same position at the College of William and Mary from 1972 until 1982, when he retired at the mandatory age of 65. Ben continued his athletic involvement after retirement as an organizer and commissioner of what is now the Colonial Athletic Association and as athletic consultant to the president of James Madison University.
Mr. Carnevale served in the Navy during WWII as a gunnery officer and was torpedoed in December, 1942, spending several days in an open lifeboat before being rescued. He received the Purple Heart.
Surviving are his wife of 65 years, Agnes Curran Carnevale; a daughter Jeanne Hansford of Greenwich, CT; and four sons, Robert and Dan of Mt. Pleasant, SC; David of Lewis, DE; and Mark of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL; ten grandchildren and four great grand children. He is also survived by his brother Joseph and his sister Margueritte.