By: Joel Vazquez, Writer / Follow South Jersey Higher Education Intern
SEWELL, N.J. — Steve Solomone, the former men’s basketball coach at Rowan College of South Jersey, passed away last Wednesday. He was 79.
The college’s basketball team climbed to national prominence in the 1990s under Solomone’s direction. He coached the team to victory when it won the NJCAA Division III crown in the 1993-94 season. They had a perfect 30-0 record, an achievement only that team, out of all the men’s college teams in the nation, accomplished that season. By the end of his time at RCSJ, which was then Gloucester County College, he had a 301-48 career record from 1991 to 2001.
During the 1990s, the teams racked up 47 consecutive wins over two seasons and won six NJCAA Region 19 championships. In 1996, the team finished second in the nation and in 1997, it ranked third. Solomone also coached eight All-Americans, including Marvin Stinson who led the Roadrunners during their 1994 season.
Solomone was also a member of three different hall of fames: the Rowan College Roadrunner Hall of Fame, the Gloucester County Sports Hall of Fame, and the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame. He was named Region 19 Coach of the Year six times (1994-1997, 1999, 2000) NJCAA Coach of the Year honor in 1995, and the NJCAA Division III Coach of the Year award in 1994. And in 2017, the college even held a “Coach Steve Solomone Night” in his honor.
Even when Solomone was off the court, he was still dedicated to the basketball community. He was a guest speaker at the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association meeting in 1995. He ran youth basketball camps from 1991 to 2001 and guest spoke at basketball clinics throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Solomone lived in Deptford and would often visit the Roadrunner Athletic Complex to support the sports teams.
“Whenever he would come to a game, we would bring in a big tray of meatballs and invite younger coaches and members of our staff in to listen to his stories,” Brian Rowan, executive director for athletics, said in a press release. “Everyone loved to be around him.”
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.