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District Colleges

St. Vincent dedicates room to late basketball coach Matthews

Paul Schofield
| Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, 10:33 p.m.

Bernie Matthews coached basketball at St. Vincent for 33 years.

His teams posted a 505-396 record and made the NAIA national tournament five times (1991, '98, 2000, '02 and '03) and the Elite Eight twice ('98 and '01).

At halftime of Saturday's game against Geneva, the school will dedicate a room on the second floor of Carey Center in his honor.

With his family and more than 50 of his former players in attendance, the Bernie Matthews Team Meeting Room will be unveiled. The room will honor his achievements and celebrate the life of the coach with the most wins in school history. Matthews died from pancreatic cancer Feb. 1, 2015. He was 77.

It is a room all athletic teams will utilize.

“The family and school decided it was way past time to honor my dad,” Bernie Matthews Jr. said. “So we got together and made it happen.”

There will be a Mass at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Crypt on the lower level on the Basilica. A private dedication of the Matthews room will follow at 5:30 p.m.

“If my dad were still here, he would enjoy the Mass with his family, players and friends the most,” Bernie Jr. said. “The room is a permanent way to honor him.”

During Matthews' tenure, he coached his sons, Mark (1998) and Mike (1986), numerous All-Americans and several players who played professionally.

“We decided to honor Bernie on the anniversary of his death and the 25th anniversary of his first team to make the NAIA tournament,” St. Vincent president Brother Norman Hipps said.

Matthews was hired as coach in 1970, replacing Dodo Canterna. Matthews was a 1959 graduate of Duquesne, where he played under legendary coaches Dudey Moore and Red Manning.

“Bernie was a great coach and was a great recruiter for the school,” Hipps said. “He worked in admissions and we had the Opportunity Program that helped students. He was able to identify the students who needed help.”

The Matthews family also will announce the formation of the Bernie Matthews Opportunity Program Foundation. This program will help students having difficulty qualifying for admission, as well as youth sports teams and the poor and underprivileged.

“My dad was a part-time coach for 33 years,” Bernie Jr. said. “His full-time positions were in admission and in the athletic department. He didn't do bad with that part-time job.

“Dad deserved this. I know my mother will enjoy the ceremony, and it's also for the players he coached. My dad was tough and fair, and that's what his players loved about him.”

Matthews is a member of the Pennsylvania Basketball Hall of Fame and the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Hall of Fame.

He was named District 18 Coach of the Year in 1985, '91, 2000 and '03.

He was a 1955 graduate of now-closed St. Canice in the Knoxville section of Pittsburgh.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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