Although Jack McCloskey spent only one year as an intercollegiate athlete for the Quakers, he was a quintessential all-around athlete at the University of Pennsylvania.  An honorable mention All-American in football and a varsity letterwinner in football, basketball and baseball during the 1943-44 season, McCloskey was commissioned to the Navy in 1944 and upon his discharge, signed a contract to play baseball with the Philadelphia Athletics, therefore relinquishing his varsity eligibility.

Someone may have been able to take McCloskey out of Penn, but no one could take Penn out of McCloskey.  He finished his studies at the University in 1948 with a degree in education and went on to play professional basketball with the Philadelphia Warriors and with the Eastern Basketball Association.  For five years, he was a member of the All-Star team and was one of only two players to earn back-to-back Eastern League MVP honors (1953 and 1954).

 

McCloskey returned to Penn as the head basketball coach in 1956, with a down team that went 7-19 during his first year, followed by 13-12 and 12-14 seasons, before recording seven-straight winning campaigns, including the program’s first Ivy League Championship season in 1965-66.  That season would be McCloskey's last as the Penn coach, as the Quakers recorded 19 wins, the most since the 1954-55 season.  During his tenure at the helm of the men's basketball team, McCloskey's teams went 87-53 in Ivy competition and won the school's first Philadelphia Big 5 Championship in 1963.  McCloskey left Penn with an overall record of 146-105.

 

Penn's prodigal coach moved on to Wake Forest, where he led the Demon Deacons to a six-year record of 56-50 and turned the program into an ACC contender.  McCloskey heard the NBA calling and went to see if some of his black magic would work with the pros.  He took over the expansion Portland Trailblazers in 1972-73, and in two seasons, laid much of the groundwork that eventually enabled the Pacific Division team to claim an NBA Championship in 1977.  Coaching stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Indiana Pacers eventually led McCloskey to the Detroit Pistons as the team's general manager.  Continuing his dramatic turnaround of basketball programs in trouble, he led the Pistons to back-to-back World Championships in 1989 and 1990, just nine years after the franchise hit rock bottom with a 16-66 record.

           

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Eastern/Continental Basketball Association named McCloskey to its All-Time Eastern Team.  He served on the U.S. Men's Basketball committee and was a part of the Senior Olympic 3-on-3 Champions in 1991.  McCloskey stands fourth all-time for wins in a career at Penn with 146.