NEW YORK (JTA) — Jonathan Halpert, whose contract as the men’s basketball coach at Yeshiva University was not renewed, closed out more than four decades on the Maccabees’ bench with a victory.
Y.U. edged Maritime College, 60-57, before a nearly full house at the New York school’s Max Stern Athletic Center on Saturday night, according to the Yeshiva website, pushing its record for the season to 7-18. The gym’s basketball court bears Halpert’s signature.
Halpert finished his 42-year career at the Division III school with 416 victories. Addressing the crowd after the game, he thanked the fans for their support, the Y.U. website reported.
In an interview last week with The New York Jewish Week, Halpert said of Y.U. not renewing his contract, “It rips your heart out. To end this way makes no sense.”
Y.U. said in a statement earlier this month that Halpert “will conclude his service” following the season, The Jewish Week reported. The university has been criticized for its handling of Halpert’s departure.
“What happened here you’d expect at some faceless, large university, where people come and go,” David Kufeld, who played for Halpert from 1976 to 1980 and is the only Y.U. player ever drafted by the NBA, told The New York Times. “There could’ve been a better way to make a bridge to the next phase of coaching.”
Kufeld was among more than 300 signers of a letter to “Coach Johnny” in Yeshiva’s student newspaper, The Commentator, expressing their support for Halpert, who twice won Coach of the Year in the Skyline Conference.
From 1986-87 to 2001-02 season, the Maccabees under Halpert did not have a losing season, but they have not enjoyed a winning campaign since 2005-06. According to The New York Times, some alumni with ties to the board of trustees have wondered why Halpert, who is in his late 60s, could not duplicate the earlier success.
In a statement, Y.U. President Richard Joel lauded Halpert’s “caring commitment, as both mentor and coach, to his players and the YU community.” The statement added, “His legacy and lasting contribution to the university will be remembered each time our student athletes step onto the court that carries his name.”