A special scholarship in the name of Joe Boylan
Mike MacDonald was an assistant coach of Iona’s men’s basketball in the 1970s, working under the direction of head coach and other Rutgers alumnus Jim Valvano. They were recruiting a great striker by the name of Jeff Ruland at a showcase event.
“We’re sitting next to (Kentucky coach) Joe B. Hall and a bunch of bankers who came from Kentucky in their cowboy hats,” MacDonald recalls. “Ruland was playing great, dominant – one of the best great men I’ve ever seen. Joe B. Hall says, “I heard it was between us, North Carolina, Notre Dame, UCLA, and Iona.”
Valvano replied, “Yeah, I think we’re going to have it. ‘”
Hall replied, “Tell you what Jim, I’m going to buy Iona and move that sucker to Kentucky.”
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Well, Valvano had Ruland, who elevated Iona to national rank before playing in the NBA. Valvano won a national title at NC State. MacDonald eventually became an executive at Xerox, then president and CEO of nutrition and weight loss company Medifast.
The Spring Lake resident attributes his success to the people he met when he was a student and basketball player at Rutgers.
“I learned organization from Bill Foster, leadership and discipline from Tom Young and how to sell from Jim Valvano,” he said.
Equally influential was Joe Boylan, on whose behalf MacDonald is offering a scholarship.
Everyone loved Boylan, former Rutgers assistant coach under Young, then Loyola (Md.) Athletic director and, for the last few years until his death in March, Rutgers Basketball radio analyst.
“Tom was a tough, very disciplined guy, and Joe was the perfect fit – compassionate and intelligent, a Renaissance man,” MacDonald said. “You can talk to Joe about anything, not just basketball. He focused on academics and what you need to do to be successful outside of basketball.
“He had a big impact on my life”
This is the spirit behind the Joe Boylan Scholarship. From 2022-2023, he will fund a men’s basketball scholarship at the discretion of head coach Steve Pikiell. MacDonald donated $ 100,000 to get it started, and he’s leaving an estate gift of $ 1 million to keep it going.
“Joe was so important,” MacDonald said. “He had a big impact on my life as a good example – a good man and a good coach who cared about children.”
Earlier this fall, MacDonald and several members of the mighty 1970s Rutgers crews, including Scarlet Knights Hall of Fame members Eddie Jordan and Mike Dabney, gathered in Stone Harbor with Boylan’s family to disperse his ashes. . Young and Pikiell were there too.
MacDonald has already endowed scholarships, including that of current Rutgers goalie Geo Baker.
“I’ve always believed in helping kids with scholarships,” he said. “Get a good education and even if they don’t play professionally, they can do well in life. “
It worked for him. Recruited by Foster, for whom he worked in summer camps, MacDonald stayed on to play for Dick Lloyd and Dick Vitale – and later for Young and Boylan. In his senior season, 1974-75, Rutgers made his first appearance in the NCAA tournament, laying the groundwork for the Final Four the following March.
MacDonald has a million stories, and he tells a bunch of them in his book, “From the Bench to the Boardroom: My Journey from Underdog Athlete to CEO of Turnaround.”
Written with veteran hoop scribe Dick Weiss and available on Amazon.com, it was published in May and features a foreword by Vitale. All profits will be donated to pediatric cancer research.
“One of the reasons I wrote the book was to really talk about how a kid like me who was a lower middle class kid in Philadelphia can have a great life getting a great education and playing. with great players and learning from all of them, “said MacDonald.” Sport is a great way to move your life forward. “
His message to college athletes, the one Boylan preached to him all those years ago: “There are so few who go to the NBA, you hope they will all be prepared for life outside of basketball,” MacDonald said. “That’s what Rutgers did for me.”
And why he pays forward.
Anyone interested in contributing to the Joe Boylan Scholarship can do so at this link.
Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the pace of college basketball since 2003. He is among the Associated Press’s Top 25 Voters. Contact him at [email protected]