DURHAM, N.H. – Former University of New Hampshire men’s basketball head coach Gerry Friel (64) passed away Monday evening after a long and courageous battle with illness.
Friel spent 20 years (1969-89) as the head coach for the men’s basketball program. After his final season in coaching, Friel served as the Director of University Athletic Relations before taking on a new role as the Director of Athletic Fundraising. He also served as Associate Vice President of the UNH Foundation.
Friel will mostly be remembered as a stalwart on the sidelines of Lundholm Gymnasium for the better part of three decades in guiding the Wildcats on and off the court.
“Every UNH Wildcat mourns Gerry’s passing,” said UNH Athletic Director Marty Scarano. “There are but a few iconic names in the long tradition of UNH athletics and Gerry Friel is one. Gerry was very proud of two things in his life, his family and UNH. Gerry will always be remembered by everyone associated with the UNH men’s basketball program.”
Friel closed out his 20-year career with 188 victories, which ranks first among all UNH men’s basketball coaches in the 100-year history of the program. He posted back-to-back winning records in the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons. His 1973-74 and 1982-83 squads rank second in most wins during a single season with 16.
A 1965 graduate of the State University of New York-Oswego, Friel began his coaching career at Fulton High School in upstate New York. He worked at Fulton for one year before joining the Boston College staff as an assistant coach under Boston Celtic great Bob Cousy. Friel helped guide the Eagles to the NCAA tournament in 1967 and 1968 and advanced to the NIT Championship game in 1969. He served under Cousy for three years before assuming his post at UNH.
Friel was named ECAC North Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year following the 1982-83 campaign. He also earned New England and U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-District Coach of the Year awards that season. Friel was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Friel is survived by his wife of 36 years, Joan, and his five children. All of the Friel children: Jennifer, Keith, Gregory, Jeremy and currently Jilliane have played basketball and other sports at Oyster River High School making a mark for themselves, both academically and athletically. Jeremy and Jennifer both went on to play basketball for UNH, Keith for University of Notre Dame and transferred to Virginia, Gregory for Dartmouth College and Jilliane, who is currently a junior at Oyster River High School.
This Saturday (Aug. 25) a celebration of Gerry’s life will be held at 1:00 pm at Huddleston Hall on the campus of the University of New Hampshire.
The family wishes to establish a scholarship endowment in his name.