NEW YORK -- Three Hall of Fame basketball coaches have been chosen to receive the inaugural Joe Lapchick Character Award.
Pat Summitt, Lou Carnesecca and Dean Smith will receive the award next month at Madison Square Garden, it was announced Tuesday.
The award, conceived by former St. John's player and longtime high school coach Gus Alfieri, was established to recognize basketball coaches who have shown the character and coaching ability of Hall of Famer Lapchick, who coached St. John's and the New York Knicks.
"There could not be a better time to focus attention on character in sports but the present and Joe Lapchick is the model for the person we should look to," said Alfieri, who was on Lapchick's 1959 NIT championship team.
Lapchick, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959 as a member of the original Celtics, coached at St. John's from 1936-47 and again from 1956-1965. He compiled a 334-130 record and won four NIT championships. He spent nine seasons coaching with New York in the fledgling NBA and was credited as one of the leaders in integrating the league. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach in 1966. He died in 1970.
Summitt is the winningest coach in women's college basketball history with a 983-182 record in 34 seasons at Tennessee. She has led the Lady Vols to eight national titles, and 100 percent of the players who have completed their eligibility under her have graduated.
Smith led North Carolina to 11 Final Fours and two national championships in his 36 seasons there, compiling an 879-254 record. When he retired, he had the most wins in Division I history, a mark since eclipsed by Bob Knight. Ninety-six percent of the lettermen who played under him graduated.
Carnesecca was an assistant to Lapchick for nine years and succeeded him following the 1964-65 season. He coached at his alma mater for 24 seasons, each ending with a postseason appearance, including the 1985 Final Four. Carnesecca, who coached in the ABA for three seasons, finished with a record of 526-200 at St. John's and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1992.
The Joe Lapchick Character Award, which has the support of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, will be presented Nov. 20, the day of the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.
The award is sponsored by Nike, D'Agostino Supermarkets and HEI Hotels.