Jim McCafferty – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Loyola University/Xavier (Ohio) University
Jim McCafferty was a standout basketball player, basketball coach, track and field coach, and athletics administrator. He has been inducted into the Loyola and Xavier (Ohio) halls of fame.
Born in Scammon, Kansas, McCafferty was a prep basketball star in Henryetta, Okla., before coming to Loyola to play football in 1938. He played one season before the school dropped the sport.
McCafferty stayed on and switched to basketball, playing three seasons (1940-43). He was named to the All-Dixie Conference team in 1941 and led the team in scoring as a junior and senior. As a senior captain, he helped lead Loyola to a Dixie Conference Championship, being named Most Valuable Player of the conference tournament.
After finishing his playing career, McCafferty was a Loyola assistant coach for eight seasons, including the Wolfpack’s NAIA National Championship in 1945, which is still New Orleans’ only major basketball team championship.
Many players from the championship team said in later interviews that McCafferty was responsible for the game-planning and coaching, while head coach Jack Orsley focused on managing and administrating the program.
In 1948 U.S. Basketball hired him to coach Team USA for the Central American Olympic Games in Panama, and McCafferty coached the USA to the gold medal.
McCafferty, who was Loyola’s track coach for 11 seasons, later became the Wolfpack’s head basketball coach and Athletic Director. He led Loyola to its only NCAA basketball tournaments, gaining one of 16 bids in both 1954 and 1957. Under his tutelage, Loyola athletes competed in the most prestigious track events in the country – the Drake, Florida, and Texas relays, and the NCAA Championships. His track team won consecutive Gulf States Conference Championships in 1951 and 1952.
Ken Leithman, a member of Jim McCafferty’s track teams at Loyola from 1949-51, accepts McCafferty’s Hall of Fame honor on his behalf.
He left Loyola to become head basketball coach at Xavier University (Ohio) from 1957-63, also serving as the Musketeers’ athletic director from 1961-79. In his first season, Xavier was ranked No. 4 by UPI and No. 7 by AP. The Muskateers were invited to the NIT and won the title in what Sport magazine called “one of the greatest upsets in basketball history.” McCafferty won 91 games at Xavier from 1957-63, third most in school history, and took the school to its first NCAA Tournament in 1961.
He was the first commissioner of what is now the Midwestern Collegiate Conference in 1979. The league awards the James J. McCafferty trophy to the school that accumulates the most performance points. McCafferty was 90 when he died in Seattle in 2006.
McCafferty’s honor was presented to Ken Leithman, a member of McCafferty’s track teams at Loyola from 1949-51.
Story submitted by Les East of the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee.