Hall of Fame Coach Herb Magee to retire after 2021-22 season

After a career that saw him become one of the greatest college basketball coaches in history and all-time NCAA Division II wins leader, Naismith Hall of Famer Herb Magee announced on Tuesday that he will retire as the head men’s basketball coach for the Thomas Jefferson University Rams at the end of the upcoming 2021-22 season.

Over the course of 53 seasons, Magee’s teams posted a 1,123-444 record (.717 winning percentage). He is second all-time in NCAA victories trailing only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (1,170), who also will retire after the upcoming season. Magee is also the only basketball coach to have achieved that many wins all at his alma mater.

“Coach Magee is one of the greatest coaches in the history of Philadelphia basketball. He is an educator on and off the court, as well as a legendary winner,” says Jay Wright, Villanova Head Men’s Basketball Coach and two-time national champion. “Coach has also mastered teaching the art of shooting like no one else in the game. Through the years, he has done it all with incredible integrity.”

Wright, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2021 continued, “No one in coaching has combined teaching, mentoring, winning and class as proficiently as Coach Magee.”

Magee led then-Philadelphia Textile to the 1970 NCAA College Division National Championship. He received the ultimate honor in his sport, with his 2011 enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, president of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health, says Magee’s impact went far beyond the court.

“It is wonderful for the players and for the University that Coach Magee is staying at Jefferson for another season before he heads into a well-deserved retirement,” Dr. Klasko says. “Although knowing Herb the way I do, he won’t just be sitting around. We are grateful for the impact he has had on generations of students, on our entire university and on the sport of Basketball. He is a much-loved friend and colleague and Jefferson and the Herb Magee Court will always be his home.”

Magee has been the face of Rams basketball since his time as a student-athlete started in 1959. In addition to his accomplishments as a coach, he remains one of the best players to suit up for Jefferson, totaling 2,235 points (all before the introduction of the three-point shot) and earning All-America honors twice over his four years. Magee was inducted into the Jefferson Athletics Hall of Fame as a member of the 1984 inaugural class.

Magee was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 62nd pick of the 1963 NBA Draft, but chose not to sign with the team. Instead, he returned to East Falls to join Walter “Bucky” Harris’ staff. After four seasons as an assistant, Magee was promoted to the head job in 1967.

“Coach Magee is a cornerstone of Rams basketball,” said Mark L. Tykocinski, MD, Executive Vice President and Provost of Thomas Jefferson University. “Although he may not be on campus every day after this season, his impact will certainly be felt in perpetuity by his colleagues, opponents and, of course, the players he has influenced throughout his seminal career.”

Magee guided the Rams to 13 conference championships and 31 NCAA Tournament appearances. His teams reached 25 wins on 12 occasions, including a school-record 30 victories during the 1992-93 campaign. Magee’s teams have boasted a winning record in each of the past 23 seasons.

On February 1, 2007, Magee became the all-time Division II wins leader after picking up his 829th victory to pass another Naismith Hall of Famer, Clarence “Big House” Gaines.

On February 23, 2010, Magee won his 903rd career game to pass Hall of Fame Coach Bobby Knight for first on the all-time list across all divisions at the time. He recorded his 1,000th triumph on February 7, 2015.

Assistant Vice President for Athletics Tom Shirley says it’s difficult to put that long history of success into words.

“When the name ‘Coach Magee’ is mentioned, it is generally treated as a second name for the University. If you do not know him personally, you have at least heard of him,” Shirley says. “We can never thank Coach enough for all of the contributions he has made to the University over his 63 years. His retirement celebration will, of course, acknowledge his basketball expertise, but more importantly, it will salute a man who dedicated his life to the education of young people. We wish Coach Magee a great final season and a long and healthy retirement.”

The University is also pleased to announce that Jimmy Reilly will succeed Coach Magee. Reilly has been a member of Magee’s staff since May 2007. As the top assistant for the Rams’ men’s basketball program, Reilly has a hand in numerous aspects of the men’s basketball program including recruiting, scouting, fundraising, alumni relations, community service, logistics and academic support. Since Reilly’s arrival, the Rams appeared in nine NCAA Tournaments, won five Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference titles and claimed eight CACC South Division crowns.

Jefferson will honor Coach Magee’s career with several events throughout the season.

“Coach Magee and I go way back, all the way to my time as a player. We played Herb’s team and naturally, they won. We also coached together with USA Basketball in Colorado. It was at that time with USA Basketball that I really saw what set Herb apart. He worked harder than anyone, treated people right and with respect, and no one had more fun than him. He and I shared a lot of laughs that week. It was there that I realized this guy is a Hall of Famer. He built a program and a culture at Thomas Jefferson that is second to none and I wish him nothing but the best in retirement.”
– John Calipari, Kentucky Head Men’s Basketball Coach, 2012 National Champion, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2015

“Coach Magee is one of the greatest coaches in the history of Philadelphia basketball. He is an educator on and off the court, as well as a legendary winner. He has mentored countless young men as players and coaches. Coach has also mastered teaching the art of shooting like no one else in the game. Through the years, he has done it all with incredible integrity. No one in coaching has combined teaching, mentoring, winning and class as proficiently as Coach Magee.”
– Jay Wright, Villanova Head Men’s Basketball Coach, two-time national champion, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2021

Herb Magee is synonymous with Philadelphia basketball and I was so fortunate to have learned from him. While he has a wealth of knowledge about basketball, the lessons that I took from him span from family to the importance of truth to the value of being on time – true life lessons. On the court and in the locker room, he is a true wizard. He’s imparted his knowledge on so many basketball players and coaches that his legacy will live forever. He is the greatest of all-time and Philadelphia hoops will not be the same when he steps aside.”
– Jesse Balcer, Chestnut Hill Director of Athletics and Recreation, Philadelphia Textile Men’s Basketball 1992-96

“In a city that prides itself with having incredible basketball coaches, Coach Magee is the greatest of all of them. His ability to relate to young people and motivate and inspire them to be the best version of themselves separates Herb from so many others who have coached this game. Coach Magee has always been one of the most innovative offensive coaches in the country. The game never passed Coach Magee by; in fact, I think the game is just starting to catch up to him.”
Steve Donahue, University of Pennsylvania Head Coach, Men’s Basketball

“Coach Magee has elevated basketball in this great city for decades. He is a true institution and has stewarded his gifts on a high level. So many have benefited from his passion for coaching. His influence is beyond the records and Hall of Fame recognition. He has given multitudes of young coaches their first opportunities and has selflessly promoted them along the way. He has been an example of loyalty to former players and coaches. It’s an honor to have learned from him both on a basketball and personal level. Much respect and congratulations to one of the best to ever do it.”
Billy Lange, St. Joseph’s University Head Coach, Men’s Basketball

“It is with emotion that I learn of Herb’s retirement. It is a loss for the coaching profession and our Philly basketball community. At the same time, I am very happy for him and Geri to have more time and less restrictions to enjoy life. Herb is as good as they come as a family man, colleague, friend, teacher and basketball strategist. I do not believe that we will see another career like his.”  
 –  Dr. John Giannini, Director of Athletics, Rowan University


  • College Division National Championship (1970)
  • Twenty-seven 20 or more win (and one 30-win) seasons
  • Reached 1000 wins in 2015
  • Passed Coach Bobby Knight for first on the all-time list with his 903rd career win, all divisions at the time.
  • Became the all-time Division II wins leader with his 829th victory
  • Career .719 winning percentage
  • Coached 12 All-Americans and 36 1,000 or more point scorers
  • Achieved Thirty-one NCAA Tournament appearances
  • Won Thirteen CACC Conference Championships
  • Kodak District Coach of the Year (1993)
  • New York Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (1993, 1994 and 2004)
  • Regional Coach of the Year (four times)
  • National Coach of the Year
  • Numerous assistant coaches have gone onto head coaching or assistant coaching positions at the collegiate level, including Steve Donahue (Penn), Billy Lange (St. Joe’s), Casey Stitzel (Millersville), Jesse Balcer (Chestnut Hill), and Chuck Hammond (Goldey-Beacom)
  • Coached the Olympic Festival team along with John Calipari
  • Co-Coach of the Year in the Mideast Collegiate Conference (twice)
  • Magee was honored at the NCAA Division I Final Four with the NABC’s Guardian of the Game Award
  • Nationally recognized as a shooting expert, has tutored numerous professional ball players including Hall of Fame member Charles Barkley, and former NBA standouts Jameer Nelson, Sebastian Telfair, and Malik Rose.
  • Conducted shooting clinics around the country and in Italy and Puerto Rico.
  • Released two popular DVDs entitled, “Nothing But Net” and “Nothing But Drills”
  • Induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2011)
  • Induction into the Philadelphia University (now Thomas Jefferson University) Athletic Hall of Fame (2004)
  • Induction into the Philadelphia Area Small College Basketball Hall of Fame (2002)
  • Induction into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (1979)
  • Induction into the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame (1979)
  • Induction into the West Catholic High School Hall of Fame
  • Induction into the Philadelphia University Hall of Fame (1984)
  • Selected member of all-small college team, Philadelphia area (1959-60, 60-61, 61-62)
  • Selected outstanding small-college player, Philadelphia area (60-61, 61-62)
  • Selected first five all-star team, Quantico Marines Christmas Tournament (1960 and 1961))
  • Selected outstanding player, Quantico Marines Christmas Tournament (1960)
  • Leading scorer all colleges, Philadelphia Area (Palumbo Trophy)


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