Joseph Richard Vancisin
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Vancisin, Joseph Richard
Joseph Richard Vancisin of Naples, FL and a longtime resident of Branford, CT passed away peacefully with his family in Atlanta on March 23, 2021. He was 98. Born in Bridgeport, CT to immigrant, hard-working parents who came to this country from the Ukraine in 1919, Joe was the 6th of 7 children. He was the first in his family to go to college, receiving a scholarship to Dartmouth College, graduating in 1944 with a combined degree from Dartmouth and the Tuck Business School. He later earned his Masters in Physical Education from Minnesota. Joe was blessed to have a wonderful family. He was married to and is survived by his wife of almost 70 years, Elizabeth. They have two children, 4 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. His son, Rick, his wife, Heidi, and their children, Chris with his wife Abby and Dana with her husband Connor and daughter, Finley. His daughter, Susan Vancisin, with husband, Dr. Kenneth Miller and their children, Rebecca Miller and Josh Miller. He was also extremely fortunate to be able to enjoy and to build his career around his other loves, Basketball and Golf. In High School, he was an All-New England Player for Bassick High School of Bridgeport, which won the New England Championship in 1940 and was runner up in 1939. A fun trivia fact is that Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of Basketball, threw up the ball for the opening tip at the 1939 Championship Game in one of his last public appearances. At Dartmouth, Joe was the starting guard on their 1944 team which went to the NCAA Tournament Final Game, losing to Utah in OT by 2 points. Following graduation, he served as a corporal in the U.S. Air Corps and was the player/coach for the Air Corps Services Team which won the All Services Basketball Championship in 1945. Joe transitioned his love of the game into coaching, first as an assistant at Michigan and Minnesota, then becoming Head Basketball Coach at Yale from 1955-75, where he won 3 Ivy League Championships. Another highlight of his time at Yale was as a huge underdog, upsetting highly ranked LSU and Pete Maravich for the Rainbow Classic Tournament title in 1969. During this time, he also was fortunate to be able to offer basketball clinics worldwide including in Sudan and Argentina. At Yale, he also coached Freshman Golf and was the manager for the highly ranked Yale Golf Course for several years. After retiring from Yale, Joe continued his close relationship with Basketball, becoming the Executive Director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches – the organization that represents the thousands of college basketball coaches at all levels. In this role, he worked with other coaches and the NCAA to protect, teach and improve the game of basketball in its ongoing evolution. He retired from the NABC in 1992. Joe's association and work with Basketball also brought him many honors. He was awarded the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, elected to the Branford Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. He also attended 63 NCAA Basketball Final Fours and 60 consecutively from 1948-2008. Joe was fortunate to have had an eventful, diverse and fabulous life, which he recognized and for which he was very grateful. He has a wonderful family, which he loved very much and he was largely healthy for virtually all of his life. He loved his role as a teacher and has had a lasting impact on many of the people he has been around through the years. Many of his former players continued to remain in close contact with him through the years and they created a scholarship fund in his name at Yale in his honor. He will be missed by us and will be remembered very warmly by all.
For those so wishing, in lieu of flowers, please send any donations to: "The Joe Vancisin Fund for Yale Basketball" c/o Yale Athletic Department, 20 Tower Parkway, New Haven, CT 06511. This is a fund that was created by former team players who loved and admired him and is to be used as needed for the benefit of Yale Basketball. Or "Trustees of Dartmouth College" c/o Dartmouth College, 6066 Development Office, Hanover, NH 03755-3555. (In memory of Joseph R. Vancisin '44).

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Published in The New Haven Register on Mar. 25, 2021.
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4 entries
March 29, 2021
Joe was more than just a successful basketball coach. He was a true mentor and respected leader for his players who in turn loved and respected him. I was privileged to know him as the basketball P R man at Yale. We also more recently connected as winter residents in Naples, Fl. We send our thoughts and prayers to Joe’s wife Liz and his family.
Sincerely, Jack and Maryann Dolan
Maryann Dolan
March 29, 2021
I was a former player in Columbia Heights of Joe when I was a youth growing up. From 1951 to 1956, Joe coached us in baseball for 5 or 6 years . I have posted on FB a picture of our 1953 team and Joe is in the back row next to Tom Trench one of my teammates. Joe was so influential on all of us that played for him during that time. I think I became a coach because of him and he treated his players with tough love but never yelled at us for a physical mistake. He kept what he called a "poop" sheet on our games and pointed out where we needed to improve in the next practice. I geared much of my coaching based on his teaching. I thank God every day that I was blessed to be coached by Joe. Imagine having been coached by an All-American coach before he was voted into the Coaches Hall of Fame. I spoke to him during the time the Final Four for basketball was in Minnesota when he was 70 years old and I spoke on the phone years later when I visited New Haven but could not connect with Joe because he was in Georgia at that time. All of the Columbia Heights players loved Joe. Thank you for sharing him during those formative years for us.
Larry Gallagher
March 28, 2021
I covered Joe's Ivy League championship team in 1962, team that was just a missed rebound layup from upsetting Wake Forest with Len Chappell and Billy Packers at Palestra in Philadelphia. Yale lost in overtime after star sophomore Dr. Rick Kaminsky fouled out. The late Billy Madden was captain of that team. Dennis Lynch was sophomore guard opposite Madden. That team next year upset Bill Bradley and Princeton on the road but lost playoff to Tigers for Ivy title and another NCAA Bid. My sister, who lived in Branford, was hired by Joe V to do the calligraphy and the NABC All-America certificates (suitable for framing) that were sent out to athletes. Joe was always willing to help increase my knowledge of the game and very patient with a young upstart. He was loyal to basketball, always showed up at my dad's West Haven Red Devils reunion dinners. He probably grew up in Bridgeport watching those old-timers play. Glad he lived a long, full life. God bless.
Milton Northrop
March 26, 2021
As a young sportswriter and later as a somewhat mature sports editor, I covered many of Joe Vancisin's Yale basketball teams. He was a fine coach, well-informed and invariably cooperative with the media. Much later, the first of Vancisin's two Ivy League championship teams appeared on the cover of my book: "Hoops in Connecticut: The Nutmeg State's Passion for Basketball," published by the History Press in 2011; a segment of the chapter on coaches was devoted to Joe V. My condolences to the Vancisin family and his multitude of friends and admirers, as well as his former Yale players.
Don Harrison
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