BERKELEY, CA -Pete Newell, the Hall of Fame basketball coach who won an NCAA championship and Olympic gold medal and later tutored some of the game's greatest big men, died Monday. He was 93.
His death was confirmed by the University of California, the school Newell coached to a national title in 1959. Newell, who had been living near San Diego, had a serious lung operation in 2005.
He died at about 10:45 a.m. in Rancho Santa Fe at the home of retired Dr. Earl Schultz, who played for Newell at Cal and had watched over him for the last several years.
Schultz said Newell had a meeting scheduled with Jerry West and a writer who was working on a book on West, who played for Newell's 1960 U.S. Olympic basketball team.
"He's 93. He had a wonderful life, and it was just old age," Schultz told The Associated Press. "His health was not good, because they had removed two-thirds of his lung and he had smoked for many years. It was starting to be a real struggle for him physically. He was getting more weak and dwindling away a little bit."
Newell coached for 14 years at San Francisco, Michigan State and California before doctors advised him to give it up because of the emotional toll. His final coaching job came in the 1960 Olympics, when he took a U.S. team led by Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Jerry Lucas to a gold medal in Rome.
Newell later returned to prominence with his famous "big men" camps. He instructed some of the game's greatest stars, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Shaquille O'Neal and Ralph Sampson.