McGuire, Frank Joseph

November 8, 1913–October 11, 1994

When the University of South Carolina hired McGuire to be the head basketball coach in 1964, no one dreamed that he would change the face of basketball in the Palmetto State forever. His teams started playing in the old 3,200-seat field house, but part of the deal that brought McGuire to Columbia ensured that a new coliseum would be built. In four years the team moved into the 12,401-seat Carolina Coliseum, one of the finest facilities in the South and soon to be known as “the house that Frank built.”

Basketball coach. McGuire was born on November 8, 1913, in New York City, the thirteenth child of Robert and Anne McGuire. He grew up in an Irish-Catholic section of Greenwich Village and was educated in Catholic schools, eventually graduating from St. Francis Xavier High School, where he was a stand-out athlete. After high school he attended St. John’s University and played for four years on the baseball and basketball teams, graduating in 1937. After graduation, McGuire was hired by his high school alma mater to teach and coach. His tenure at the school was interrupted by service as a naval officer during World War II. McGuire married Patricia Johnson in April 1940. The couple eventually had three children. Patricia died of cancer in 1967, and McGuire married Jane Henderson on June 3, 1972.

McGuire’s first college job was at St. John’s University, where he coached basketball from 1947 to 1952. During this time he took the Redmen to four postseason tournaments and was named National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) coach of the year his last season at the school. The University of North Carolina hired McGuire to rebuild its basketball program in 1953, and he stayed at UNC until 1961. In 1957 UNC won NCAA championship with a 32–0 record, and McGuire was again named coach of the year.

Professional basketball came knocking on McGuire’s door and he answered, leaving the Tarheels for the job as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia Warriors in 1961. He coached the NBA team led by center Wilt Chamberlain to the semifinals of the NBA championship before losing to the Boston Celtics. The Warriors franchise was sold at the end of the season, and the team moved to California without their one-season coach.

When the University of South Carolina hired McGuire to be the head basketball coach in 1964, no one dreamed that he would change the face of basketball in the Palmetto State forever. His teams started playing in the old 3,200-seat field house, but part of the deal that brought McGuire to Columbia ensured that a new coliseum would be built. In four years the team moved into the 12,401-seat Carolina Coliseum, one of the finest facilities in the South and soon to be known as “the house that Frank built.” McGuire’s most successful teams at USC played in the early 1970s and featured star players such as John Roche, Bobby Cremins, John Ribock, Tom Owens, and Tom Riker. The 1970–1971 and 1971–1972 teams had perfect home records in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference (11–0 and 13–0). In his twelve seasons in the Carolina Coliseum, McGuire’s home record was 137 wins and 28 losses. McGuire retired in 1980 with an overall record of 283 wins and 142 losses. In 1977 the Frank McGuire Arena in the Carolina Coliseum was named in his honor.

McGuire remained in Columbia after his retirement. In 1992 he suffered a debilitating stroke, and he died two years later on October 11, 1994. McGuire was buried at the cemetery of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Columbia.

Barton, Donald F., and Bob Fulton. Frank McGuire: The Life and Times of a Basketball Legend. Columbia, S.C.: Summerhouse, 1995.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title McGuire, Frank Joseph
  • Coverage November 8, 1913–October 11, 1994
  • Rhett Jackson
  • Author Parker Evatt
  • Keywords Basketball coach, service as a naval officer during World War II, St. John’s University, named National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) coach of the year, National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia Warriors 1961, University of South Carolina, Carolina Coliseum, Frank McGuire Arena
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date October 18, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 10, 2017
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