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Richie Regan

Sport: Basketball

Born: November 30, 1930

Town: Newark

Richard Joseph Regan was born November 30, 1930 in Newark. Tall, wiry, quick and coordinated, he made a name for himself in the city’s CYO league and later earned All-State honors at West Side High. Few players in the country his age could rival Richie’s pinpoint passing. One of Richie’s boyhood heroes had been Seton Hall star Bob Davies, an All-American who led the Pirates to 43 straight victories between 1939 and 1941. In 1949, he followed in his idol's footsteps and enrolled at Seton Hall on a basketball scholarship.

Richie joined the varsity as a sophomore in 1950–51. The Pirates’ coach, John “Honey” Russell, was regarded as a basketball pioneer, having played with the powerhouse New York Celtics during the 1920s and 1930s. Richie’s job was to trigger the offense from the point. Tireless Walter Dukes took care of the inside scoring and rebounding. Junior forward Roy Belliveau provided scoring and rebounding at the forward position.

In Richie’s first two seasons, Seton Hall was one of the 12 colleges picked to play in the National Invitation Tournament across the river at Madison Square Garden. The 1951 NIT run ended against Brigham Young in the semifinals. In 1952, the Pirates fell in the opening round to La Salle.

The 1952–53 season ended on a more positive note. Seton Hall went 28–2 in the regular season and was the #2 seed in the NIT. After a first-round bye, the Pirates edged Niagara 79–74, then wiped out Manhattan College 74–56. In the final against St. John’s, Seton Hall won 58–46 and set an MSG attendance record in the process.

Richie finished his career with 1,167 points and 443 assists. In all, the Pirates were 80–12 when he was in the lineup and he was named an All-American. Richie’s final game as a collegian also took place in Madison Square Garden. Russell coached the East to victory and Richie was named MVP.

In the spring of 1953, the Rochester Royals picked Richie in the first round. He served two years in the Marines and then joined the Royals as a bench player for the 1955–56 campaign, subbing for former Seton Hall alum Bobby Wanzer. The two switched roles in 1956–57 and Richie had al All-Star season. He scored 4 points in 21 minutes of play. After one more year with the Royals (who moved to Cincinnati for the season), Richie quit the NBA to accept the head coaching job at Seton Hall after Russell retired. Shortly after Richie took over, starters Art Hicks and Hank Gunter were implicated in a point-shaving scandal that involved more than two dozen colleges.

Seton Hall had a winning record in each of Richie’s first four seasons at the helm. The program struggled after that and in 1970 he was replaced by Bill Raftery. Richie stayed in South Orange as assistant Athletic Director and, after two years, he became Seton Hall’s Athletic Director. He ushered in the women’s athletic program in 1973 working with assistant Sue Dilley, and oversaw Seton Hall’s joining the newly formed Big East in 1979. Richie’s hiring of P.J. Carlesimo triggered the Pirates’ revival and, in 1990, Seton Hall fell one basket short of a national championship.

Richie retired in 1985, serving thereafter as executive director of the Pirate Blue Athletic Fund. In 1998, Richie was named a special assistant to the VP of University Affairs.

Richie was married twice and had eight children. He lived in Sea Girt after retiring from Seton Hall. He passed away from heart failure in Neptune at the age of 72, on Christmas Eve in 2002.

 

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