Jack Devine, noted basketball player and coach

Posted: June 19, 2014

Herb Magee said he learned a lesson about coaching from Jack Devine.

Magee's senior year at West Catholic High School was Mr. Devine's first year of coaching basketball there, but he came with a reputation as a star player at West Catholic and Villanova University.

"We felt we were a good team, but when Coach Devine took over, he instilled in us the desire to become better," Magee said.

"He would let us do what we did best," Magee said, adding that as a coach, "I allow my own players to do what they do best."

It worked on the West Catholic team, because in Mr. Devine's first year, it won the 1959 Catholic League championship.

And it worked for Magee, head coach at Philadelphia University for the last 48 years, who in 2011 was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

On Sunday, June 15, Mr. Devine, 82, of Sea Isle City, N.J., a former basketball coach at West Catholic, Villanova, and Cherry Hill High School West, died at Cape May Regional Medical Center following a stroke.

He was a resident of Medford Lakes from 1974 until moving to Sea Isle City in 2000.

Born in West Philadelphia, Mr. Devine graduated from West Catholic in 1951, where he was a forward on the basketball team and where he is now in the school's hall of fame, his son Jack Jr. said.

At Villanova, Mr. Devine scored 1,263 points and grabbed 1,181 rebounds in his three varsity seasons - 1952 to 1955 - which the website www.vuhoops.com states were the 37th most points and the third most rebounds in Villanova history.

At Villanova, he earned a bachelor's degree in marketing in 1955 and entered its hall of fame in 1976, his son said.

After serving as a Navy air traffic controller in Norfolk, Va., in 1956-57, he was a freshman coach and assistant varsity coach at Villanova until 1966 and head coach at Fairleigh Dickinson University until 1972.

Bernie Schaffer, who retired in 2013 from investment management, played for Mr. Devine on Villanova teams that included Billy Melchionni, the future NBA and ABA star.

"We played the same position, inside forward," Schaffer said of Mr. Devine, "and he taught me how to play physical basketball."

But more than that, he said, "he was truly a remarkable guy who really made a difference in people's lives."

Mr. Devine completed his career as the basketball coach at Cherry Hill West from 1974 to 1980 and as guidance counselor there from 1974 to 2000, his son said.

William Janus, general manager of the Camden Courier-Post, played forward for Mr. Devine at Cherry Hill West.

"I get to go to a lot of high school games and I get to watch how kids perform and how coaches scream, and that wasn't Coach Devine," Janus said.

"That was a guy who coached with dignity, suit and tie. It was as much teaching you about what was going to happen later in life as it was teaching about winning or losing basketball games."

Janus added, "I have three heroes - Roberto Clemente, Jack Nicklaus, and Jack Devine. I got lucky because I got to meet one of my heroes and found he was the real deal."

Besides his son, Mr. Devine is survived by his wife, Fran; another son, Vince; a daughter, Mary Cay Cousart; two brothers, and nine grandchildren.

A visitation was set from 9 to 10:45 a.m. Thursday, June 19, at St. Joseph Church, 43d Street and Landis Avenue, Sea Isle City, before an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass there, with private interment.

Donations may be sent to www.westcatholic.org.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.mayfuneralhome.com.


610-313-8134 @WNaedele

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