James J. McCafferty

James J. McCafferty

JAMES J. McCAFFERTY --- 1982 Inductee ---Head Basketball Coach (1957-63) and Athletic Director (1962-79). Assistant Vice President of Student Development at XU. First Commissioner of MCC (1979-80).

"Big Jim" McCafferty has been a big part of Xavier Athletics since the mid-1950's. Although he is best remembered for leading XU to the 1958 National Invitation Tournament Championship, McCafferty has effected XU in many ways.

McCafferty, who took over as XU Head Coach for the 1957-58 season, fielded some of Xavier's best teams ever. He is the sixth-winningest coach in the school's basketball history with 91 wins and 71 losses.

Seven members of Xavier's 1,000-Point Club played for McCafferty, including Steve Thomas (1,722), Joe Viviano (1,338), Jack Thobe (1,296), Hank Stein (1,144), Bill Kirvin (1,088), Bob Pelkington (1,075), and Joe Geiger (1,073).

McCafferty's 1958-59 team received the highest-ever rankings in Xavier history, fourth in U.P.I. and seventh in A.P., in December of 1958. A short time later XU was knocked out of the "Top 20" by a couple of losses. It didn't return to the regular season A.P. or U.P.I. "Top 20" again until the record-breaking 26-4 season of 1987-88.

McCafferty led the Cinderella Musketeers to the 1958 NIT Championship in his first season as head coach. XU beat Niagara (95-86), Bradley (72-62), St. Bonaventure (72-53), and Dayton (78-74 in OT) to capture the title, a championship which Sport magazine has called "one of the greatest upsets in basketball history."

There were several other big moments under McCafferty, including the first NCAA Tourney appearance by a Xavier team. XU played Morehead State, losing 71-66, in the 1961 Mideast Regional at Louisville's Freedom Hall.

There was much better news for McCafferty and the Musketeers at Freedom Hall in 1963, though. XU defeated Creighton (80-67) and St. Bonaventure (89-75) for the 1963 National Catholic Tournament Championship.

The seventh child of immigrant Irish parents, McCafferty was born in Scammon, Kansas, and gave indications of his future size when he weighed 19 pounds at birth.

At the age of five, he moved with his family to Henryetta, Oklahoma, where he played six years of high school basketball, beginning in seventh grade. After one year at St. Benedict's College in Atchison, Kansas, he went to work in a Henryetta steel mill and later roughnecked with a drilling crew in the Oklahoma oil fields.

In 1938, McCafferty enrolled in Loyola University of the South on a football scholarship. After he won a letter as a sophomore, Loyola dropped football.

McCafferty remained at Loyola, however, starring on the Wolfpack basketball team for three seasons. As a senior, he was the team captain and led Loyola to the Dixie Championship.

He received his bachelor of science degree in physical education in 1942 and immediately embarked upon his coaching career as assistant coach in both basketball and track for five years before coming to Xavier.

With McCafferty as head coach, Loyola twice went to the NCAA Tournament. In 1948, he coached a team of collegiate all-stars to the championship of the Central American Olympic Games in Panama, and the U.S. State Department sent him on a tour of Cuba one summer to conduct track and basketball clinics.

Although his head coaching reign ended in 1963, McCafferty served as the school's athletic director from 1962 to July, 1979. At that time, he was named Assistant Vice President of Student Development at Xavier.

McCafferty worked for about 20 years on trying to get Xavier into a conference. Finally, his hard work paid off when the Midwestern City Conference (now Midwestern Collegiate Conference) was born officially on June 16, 1979. "Big Jim" served as the MCC's first Commissioner during the 1979-80 school year.

Representative of the conference's all-sports champion, the James J. McCafferty Trophy is awarded annually by the MCC (Midwestern Collegiate Conference) to the member institution compiling the greatest number of performance points.