Former men’s basketball coach Neil McCarthy passed away on Sept. 18, at age 81, according to a Weber State Athletics press release.

Neil McCarthy's photographed with his players David Johnson (20), Richard Smith (32), Bruce Collins (22) and Mark Mattos (14) on Weber State's campus before the 1979-80 season.
Wildcat head coach Neil McCarthy photographed with his players David Johnson, 20, Richard Smith, 32, Bruce Collins, 22, and Mark Mattos, 14, on Weber State's campus before the 1979-80 season. Photo credit: Weber State Athletics

McCarthy coached the ‘Cats for 11 seasons from 1975-85. In his decade in Ogden, McCarthy led Weber State to a 205–105 overall record and went 99–52 in Big Sky play. His win total is only behind the current men’s basketball head coach, Randy Rahe.

During his tenure, Weber State claimed five Big Sky Conference championships and four conference tournament championships. The Weber State knocked off New Mexico State in the 1979 NCAA Tournament for the team’s only win at the Big Dance under McCarthy.

The following 1979-80 season was a special one with McCarthy leading the ‘Cats to a 26–3 overall record, including 18-straight wins.

Weber State’s historic season ended in the first round of the NCAA tournament in a loss to Lamar University in Ogden, but the Wildcats finished the season ranked No. 17 in the AP poll.

Neil McCarthy shouts across the court at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.
Former Wildcat head coach Neil McCarthy shouts across the court at the Dee Events Center in Ogden. Photo credit: Weber State Athletics

Weber State Hall of Fame players Bruce Collins, Richard Smith, David Johnson and Mark Mattos became known as “McCarthy’s Kids” under the coach’s tutelage in their four years under him.

Collins now sits at No. 3 on the Wildcats’ All-Time scoring list with 2,019 points, trailing only behind Jeremy Senglin’s 2,078 and Jerrick Harding’s 2,247.

After leaving Ogden, the three-time Big Sky Coach of the Year (1978, 80, 83) led New Mexico State to five NCAA Tournament trips and brought three Big West Conference titles to Las Cruces between 1985-1997.

Neil McCarthy points across the court directing his squad during an intense game situation.
Neil McCarthy points across the court directing his squad during an intense game situation. Photo credit: Weber State Athletics

The long-time basketball coach wouldn’t coach again after the 1997 season and was inducted into the Weber State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000. New Mexico State University Athletics Hall of Fame inducted him in 2020.

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