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Tom Young, the winningest coach in Rutgers men's basketball history, dies at 89

The Rutgers men's basketball program mourns the loss of Tom Young, the winningest coach in program history who led program legends and future head coaches like Eddie Jordan. – Photo by

Tom Young, the legendary coach of Rutgers men’s basketball and architect of the program’s 1976 Final Four team, died today at the age of 89. Young is the Scarlet Knights’ (18-14, 12-8) winningest coach of all time with 239 wins and a .671 winning percentage.

Young, who was born in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, coached the program from 1973 to 1985 and never suffered a losing season. In his time on the Banks, Young coached 12 players who would eventually play in the NBA and 10 of Rutgers’ 11 top all-time scorers.

Some of these players include Knights greats Eddie Jordan, Phil Sellers, James Bailey and Roy Hinson.

“The Rutgers men's basketball program expresses our deepest sympathies to (Young’s) family and friends upon his passing," head coach Steve Pikiell said. "(Young) was a pioneer for our program and set the standard for me and our players, past and present. Rutgers fans will remember him as the leader of the best season in Scarlet Knights basketball history.”

In that famous 1975-76 season, Young guided Rutgers to a 26-0 regular-season record and a trip to the Final Four. The team’s 31-2 final record still stands as the best single-season record in program history.

Over his Knights career, Young coached the team to four NCAA Tournaments and five National Invitation Tournament appearances.

A graduate of Maryland, Young coached at Catholic University, worked as an assistant at his alma mater and coached at American University before taking over Rutgers. Following his tenure, Young coached at Old Dominion and then served as an assistant under Jordan with the Washington Wizards before retiring in 2007.

"He was a father figure to me throughout my entire life. He was a mentor and an assistant for me when I first got my head coaching job in the NBA,” Jordan said. “When I got my first head coaching job in Sacramento, he came out and talked to my guys at training camp. That meant a lot to me.”

The construction of Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus, formerly called the Rutgers Athletic Center, took place during Young’s tenure — a building that, thanks to Young, is recognized as one of the fiercest home-court advantages in the Big Ten.

Young was also a big supporter of Pikiell's current iteration of the Knights, following the team throughout this past season.

“(Pikiell) does a great job on both ends of the court,” Young said of Pikiell. “They work their butts off on defense, they take good shots, and fortunately they have pretty good balance.”

Young is survived by Nancy Young, his wife of 67 years, his two children, Tom Young Jr. and Tracy King, and three grandchildren. Young Jr. is a Rutgers graduate and was a manager for the 1983 basketball team.

“Young was an incredible coach and mentor," said Rutgers Athletics Director Pat Hobbs. "He will undoubtedly be remembered for the success he had on the sidelines leading Rutgers men's basketball, but his lasting legacy is with the men he nurtured and taught throughout his years as coach. Their success in life is his greatest achievement.”

For more updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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