James "Jim" Phelan was born in Philadelphia, PA on March 19, 1929... 1953-54- signed with the National Basketball Association's Philadelphia Warriors and the Pottstown Packers of the old Eastern League... 1954- La Salle College, assistant Basketball coach... 1954-55- named Head coach at Mount St. Mary's College... retired after coaching for 49 years in 2003... 1962- led the Mountaineers to the NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Championship... career totals: 830 wins (overall record of 830-524), over 1,300 games in all divisions, 19 of his teams amassed 20 or more wins in a season... 1967- served as Mount St. Mary's Athletics Director for next 22 years... fourth coach in NCAA history to get 800 career wins... second to coach in 1,200 career games, holds the record in games coached with 1,354 across all NCAA divisions... National Coach of the Year Awards in 1962 and in 1981... The National Coach of the Year Award renamed the Jim Phelan Award in 2002 in his honor... 2008- inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Born in Philadelphia, PA on March 19, 1929, James "Jim" Phelan was one of the top players in the city by the time he graduated high school. A product of La Salle College High School, Phelan made the All-Catholic team in 1946 and 1947, and named to the All-City team in 1947. Upon graduation in 1947, Phelan stayed locally and enrolled at La Salle College, where he again starred in basketball and was named to the All-Philadelphia team in 1949, 1950, and 1951. Phelan received an honorable mention to the All-American team in 1951.
In June 1948, Jim Phelan enlisted in the Marine Corps and stayed on the inactive list until his graduation from La Salle College in 1951. Phelan was commissioned a second lieutenant in September 1951 and reported to Marine Corps Schools Quantico, VA. During his time at Quantico, Phelan played alongside former high school classmate and Marine Corps Sports Hall of Famer Paul Arizin on the basketball team. Phelan made the All-Marine Basketball team in 1952 and 1953. In 1952, Phelan captured the Marine Corps Basketball Most Valuable Player award and made the All-Armed Forces team.
In May 1953, Phelan reported to the 4th Marine Corps Recruiting District in Philadelphia and transferred to the inactive list. Phelan was promoted to first lieutenant in August 1954 and honorably discharged in December 1959.
After leaving Quantico, Phelan signed with the National Basketball Association's Philadelphia Warriors. The Warriors originally drafted Phelan during the eighth round of the 1951 NBA Draft. Phelan played in only four games with the Warriors during the 1953-54 season and then with the Pottstown Packers of the old Eastern League. Realizing his playing days were over, Phelan returned to La Salle College and served as an assistant coach during the rest of the 1954 season.
Phelan left his hometown at the start of the 1954-55 season to become head coach at Mount St. Mary's College. Phelan intended on coaching at Mount St. Mary's College for only a couple years and eventually interviewed for jobs at Georgetown, Virginia, Rutgers, and the Baltimore Bullets. Forty-nine years later, Phelan finally left the Mount Saint Mary's when he decided to retire in 2003.
Phelan coached his entire career at Mount Saint Mary's University. He led the Mountaineers to the 1962 NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Championship. At the conclusion of his career, Phelan amassed 830 wins (overall record of 830-524) in over 1,300 games in all divisions. In those 49 years, 19 of his teams amassed 20 or more wins in a season.
In 1967, Phelan also assumed the roles as the Mount St. Mary's Athletics Director, serving both roles over the next 22 years, helping to lay the groundwork for the Mount's move to Division I in 1988. Once the move occurred, Phelan resigned as the Athletic Director to devote his full attention to the basketball program.
Phelan reached his 800th win in the Northeast Conference Championship Game on March 1, 1999. He became just the fourth coach in NCAA history to get 800 career wins; currently he resides fourth on the all-time list behind Bob Knight, Dean Smith, and Adolph Rupp. On January 19, 1998, he became just the second coach in NCAA history to coach in 1,200 career games (The other being Clarence Gaines). Today, Phelan holds the record in games coached with 1,354 across all NCAA divisions. Phelan earned National Coach of the Year Awards in 1962 and in 1981. The National Coach of the Year Award was renamed the Jim Phelan Award in 2002 in his honor.
On November 23, 2008, Phelan was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Phelan and his wife, Dottie, currently reside near the Mount St. Mary's campus in Maryland.