June 6, 2009
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. - Former St. Bonaventure basketball coach and player Jim Baron '77 was formally inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in an emotional ceremony last Saturday afternoon, June 6, in the Reilly Center.
A Reunion Weekend crowd of about 400 gathered to see Baron join the Hall as the final member of the Class of 2009. Many of Baron's former teammates and assistant coaches gathered including Hall of Famers Essie Hollis '77 and Glenn Hagan '78.
Hollis, former SBU Assistant Athletic Director Jim Engelhardt '79 and Baron's son Jimmy all spoke as presenters. University president Sister Margaret Carney, S.T.D., opened the ceremony with a welcome and prayer, lauding Baron and saying that the timing of his induction coincided well with the end of the University's 150th anniversary celebration.
"I am so humbled by this," Baron said. "I know this: I may not have been the most talented guy ever to play here, but I was the proudest. It's really not about me, but more about everyone who's helped me along the way, and that's a lot of people. I owe so many people a debt of gratitude. This is a special, special day."
As a senior co-captain and starting point guard in 1976-77, Baron led the Bonnies to one of the most magical seasons in school history. The team won 20 games in the regular season and earned a spot in the NIT. The Brown Indians defeated Rutgers, Oregon and Villanova to reach the NIT final. Playing in his hometown at Madison Square Garden on March 20, 1977, Baron and the Bonnies outlasted Houston 94-91 to capture the NIT championship. Over 81 career games, Jim totaled 427 points and led the Bonnies in assists both his sophomore and senior seasons, but most indicative of Baron's impact on the Bonaventure program were the team's 73 wins over his career, an average of over 18 per season. Also an excellent student, Baron was named the Ideal St. Bonaventure Student and also received the General Excellence Medal in Physical Education at his graduation.
Baron's coaching career began as an assistant at Rochester's Aquinas High School, and then at the University of Rochester in 1978. He was an assistant at Loyola in Maryland for a year before returning to St. Bonaventure as an assistant in 1980-81. He then landed an assistant's job at Notre Dame, where he worked for six years under Coach Digger Phelps. In 1987, he landed his first head coaching job at St. Francis of Pennsylvania. He quickly turned the Red Flash into a winner, leading them to the school's only NCAA appearance in 1991.
In 1992, Baron was hired as the 16th head coach St. Bonaventure history. His charge: lead his alma mater back, first to respectability and then to prominence. Baron did exactly that. In 1995, a senior-laden team went 18-13 and earned an NIT berth. He was named the 1994-95 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year. His most successful season came in 1999-2000, when he led St. Bonaventure to 21-10 record, a second place finish in the A-10 Tournament and the school's first NCAA Tournament berth in 22 years. Overall, Baron finished his nine seasons as the leader of the Brown and White with 132 victories and four postseason appearances.
His success continues, as Baron has spent the last eight seasons at the University of Rhode Island, where he has won A-10 Coach of the Year honor three times and led the Rams to four NIT appearances.