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Longtime Coach Lou Campanelli Died At 84

Lou Campanelli

Former James Madison men’s basketball coach Lou Campanelli, one of the most significant figures in JMU Athletics history, died on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, at 84. Campanelli, who was inducted into the JMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999, oversaw the development of men’s basketball from a non-scholarship team to one that won three consecutive NCAA Tournament first-round games from 1981 to 1983. The Dukes were colossal killers, adding to the unpredictability of March before the terms “Madness” and “Cinderella” were popular.

Lou Campanelli Died:

Former JMU men’s basketball coach Lou Campanelli died on Tuesday after leading the Dukes to three NCAA tournaments and three victories during the program’s most successful period at the Division I level. He was 84. Campanelli coached the Dukes for 13 years, from 1972 to 1985, with a 238-118 record. Except for his final year, when JMU went 14-14, his teams finished with winning records every year. Campanelli’s Dukes advanced to the Division II tournament twice before being promoted to Division I for the 1976-77 season. In 1981, JMU earned its first NCAA Division I tournament berth after nearly defeating Ralph Sampson and No. 3 UVa in the regular season.

The Carrer of Lou Campanelli:

Campanelli departed JMU in 1985 to become head coach at California. He led the Golden Bears to four postseason berths in eight seasons after the school hadn’t qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 30 years. His first Cal team defeated UCLA for the first time in 25 years, and his 1990 NCAA team, like his JMU predecessors, upset Indiana in the first round. Campanelli, a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey, has most recently resided in Northern California. He graduated from Montclair State University in 1960. He has other foreign coaching experience in Japan, handled officiating for the Pac 10, conducted many clinics, worked as an NBA scout, served as a television commentator, and coached high school basketball in California in addition to his university coaching career.

Campanelli, a lifelong coach, told ESPN’s Diamond Leung in 2011, “If your heart’s in the right place, you coach for the rest of your life.” Dare to Dream: How James Madison University Became Coed and Shocked the Basketball World, written by Campanelli, was published in 2015. A donor anonymously named the Campanelli Club in JMU’s Atlantic Union Bank Center in Campanelli’s honour, which will open in 2020 as JMU’s new basketball facility.

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