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John Clune

Sport: Basketball

Born: October 29, 1932

Died: April 4, 1992

Town: Jersey City

John J. Clune was born October 29, 1932 in Jersey City. Big, powerful and athletic, John gravitated to basketball and became one of the top players in Hudson County. John starred for St. Peter’s Prep as a 6’3” forward, earning All-State honors in basketball. A younger cousin, Jim Hannan, followed John to St. Peter’s and ended up pitching in the majors for the Washington Senators. As co-captain in 1949–50, John scored 395 points and led the school to the state championship under coach Roy Leenig.

John was accepted into the US Naval Academy, where he played for Ben Carnevale and earned All-America recognition as a senior in 1953–54. In the opening round of the 1954 NCAA Tournament, John torched UConn for 42 points. The Midshipmen made it to the Elite 8, but fell to LaSalle. John concluded his basketball career averaging 22.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in three varsity seasons. He scored in double-digits in a school-record 47 straight games. That spring, the Knicks selected John in the NBA Draft.

John joined the Air Force following graduation and earned a graduate degree in electrical engineering from USC. He worked in missile operations for many years and attained the rank of colonel before being named Athletic Director at the Air Force Academy in 1975. Under his leadership, Air Force joined the Western Athletic Conference—the first time a service academy became part of college sports conference.

During his 16 years in this position, John became a key member of several NCAA committees and also was instrumental in attracting Olympic festivals and an Olympic Training Center to Colorado Springs. In 1991, John was diagnosed with cancer and stepped down as AD. He passed away the following spring. The basketball arena at the Air Force Academy is named in his memory.


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