Pete Newell, who coached UC Berkeley to the 1959 National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball title and was one of only three men to guide teams to National Invitation Tournament, NCAA and Olympic championships, has died. He was 93.
Newell, a resident of Rancho Santa Fe, died Monday at the nearby home of Dr. Earl Shultz, one of his former Cal players who had been caring for him, the Los Angeles Times reported. Newell had been in poor health since lung surgery in 2005, his son, Roger, told the newspaper.
By winning the then-prestigious NIT with the University of San Francisco in 1949, guiding Cal to the NCAA title and winning the 1960 Olympic gold medal with a roster that included Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas and Jerry West, Newell became the first coach to claim all three titles. The only others are Dean Smith and Bob Knight, who regarded Newell as a mentor.
"In his time, I think he was one of the better coaches the game has ever seen," former UCLA coach John Wooden, a close rival of Newell early in his career, said in 2005, according to The Times.
As general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers from 1972 to 1976, Newell made the trade that brought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers in 1975, a watershed in the history of L.A. sports, The Times reported.
Born Aug. 31, 1915, in Vancouver, Canada, Newell grew up in Los Angeles. His mother, Alice, made her son into a reluctant child actor for a time, and he appeared in several of the "Our Gang" movies, according to The Times.
Newell, whose wife, Florence, died in 1984, is survived by their four sons, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A public memorial service at Loyola Marymount is planned for sometime after Thanksgiving, according to The Times.