A.J. Carr of the N&O on Jack Jensen to the Hall of Fame…

Posted by Andy Durham on May 15, 2008 at 1:03 pm under College | Read the First Comment

Here’s a very nice piece from the Raleigh News and Observer by A.J. Carr on Guilford College coach Jack Jensen headed to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame:

Wherever prospects were lurking — be it in small country gyms or on plush country club putting greens — Jack Jensen could usually find ’em. And the 69-year-old Guilford College coach recruited enough talent to win national championships in two contrasting sports, basketball and golf, a rare achievement that also makes good trivia.

That dual success is a large reason why Jensen will be enshrined in the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame at the North Raleigh Hilton tonight, along with a star-studded class of Roy Williams, Tom Butters, Leo Hart, Ken Huff, Richard Childress, Curly Neal(Greensboro Dudley HS) and Bill Hensley.

In 1973, Jensen’s basketball squad won the NAIA championship. It was a dream team that featured future NBA players World B. Free, M.L. Carr and Greg Jackson.

Jensen later made his mark in golf, guiding the Quakers to three national titles, one of them in NAIA (1989) and two in NCAA Division III (2002, 2005). His teams also have finished second four times.

After each national championship, Guilford’s most honored coach has cried, revealing a sensitive soul often camouflaged by his fiercely competitive heart.

“He’s going to cry at the banquet; I asked him should I bring a handkerchief or one of my towels,” quipped Carr, who was also famous for his towel-waving act when playing for the NBA champion Boston Celtics.

As a basketball coach, Jensen had teams thoroughly prepared, Carr said, and was adept at making key game adjustments on the fly.

“He was a worrier; worried about every aspect,” Carr recalled. “That’s not a negative. We were always prepared. But we would tell him: ‘Relax, we’ve got it.’ ” To get athletes like Carr, Jensen logged more miles than Gulliver. Sometimes he slept in his car. After 29 years and 386 victories, he stepped down as basketball coach in 1999, but he is still coaching golf, a job he reluctantly accepted in 1976.

“I didn’t want to do [golf]; I thought it might take away from basketball,” said Jensen, who was a man of the court but hardly a man of the links. He seldom plays. He doesn’t give lessons. And if a Quaker golfer needs help with his swing, he sends him to his teaching pro. “I’ve never been a swing coach; I know my limitations,” Jensen said.

But he knows how to motivate and manage people — and win championships. “It’s surrounding yourself with great, talented players regardless of the sport, allowing them to get the job done, and having help from assistants and administrators,” he explained.


  • Jim said,

    A wonderful article on a great coach and an even greater person. Congratulations Jack for this well-deserved recognition.