Tom Pecora is a 2002 inductee into the Adelphi University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Fordham men's basketball coach.
by Stephen Levine“It’s a blessing to do this. None of this happens without Adelphi.”—Tom Pecora ’83
Although Fordham University head coach Tom Pecora ’83 has been guiding men’s college basketball teams for more than two decades, his journey began more than 30 years ago at Adelphi University.
Mr. Pecora, a 2002 inductee into the Adelphi University Athletic Hall of Fame, earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education. He’s well aware that his coaching success is a by-product of the knowledge he gained at Adelphi. The Adelphi professors who, he said, “turned his life around” include Gary Barrette, Ed.D., Ronald Feingold, Ph.D., Ruth Skinner, Ph.D., and Helene Settlemier.
“The game plan was to go into coaching,” he said. “Coaching is an extension of teaching.”
Mr. Pecora has been designing a game plan for his student athletes at Fordham since 2010, the year he became head coach of the Rams. Prior to that, he spent 16 years at Hofstra University (nine as a head coach, seven as an assistant) and led the Pride to four postseason appearances. His Hofstra teams won more games than any other NCAA Division I team in the metropolitan New York area. In 2006 and 2009, the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association named Mr. Pecora its Coach of the Year. He has also won regional Coach of the Year awards from the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the Basketball Coaches Association of New York.
Every college basketball player Mr. Pecora has ever had as a head coach has graduated––a statistic of which he is understandably proud.
“Coaching is a job that helps mold young men into grown men,” he said. “It’s no different than teaching high school.”
As Mr. Pecora helps his players grow, the nature of collegiate sports dictates that a new crop of young men will come in after the current group graduates. While Mr. Pecora carries out a pivotal role in recruiting new talent to keep his team competitive, he does not forget the players he has helped to mold.
“It’s bittersweet when guys graduate,” he said. “But it’s similar to being a parent. It’s not about guiding them through four years of college, it’s about 40 years.”
A husband and the father of two daughters and a son, Mr. Pecora lives with his family in Williston Park, New York. He keeps in contact with many of his former players and seeing them pass through the milestones in their lives—their first professional jobs, marriage, children—has given him some of his proudest moments in the coaching profession.
On the court, Mr. Pecora’s career highlights include leading Hofstra to a pair of victories in the 2006 National Invitation Tournament––Hofstra’s first postseason wins ever at the Division I level of college basketball––and the unexpected victories he has had at Fordham against St. John’s, Georgia Tech and Harvard. The win over Harvard was Fordham’s first against a Top 25 team since 2000.
“It’s a blessing to do this,” Mr. Pecora said about his coaching career. “None of this happens without Adelphi.”
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