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Pete Cassidy, former Cal State Northridge basketball coach, dies at 86

Former Cal State Northridge men’s basketball coach Pete Cassidy shares some stories on Founders Day in 2013.

Pete Cassidy, who served 25 years as men’s basketball coach at Cal State Northridge and was considered a San Fernando Valley coaching icon, died on Friday in Valencia, according to former Northridge athletic director Robert Hiegert. He was 86.

Cassidy had suffered from dementia in recent years.

Cassidy was a basketball and baseball standout at San Fernando Valley State, graduating in 1960. He began coaching at Sherman Oaks Oaks Notre Dame before returning to Northridge as an assistant coach to Jerry Ball.

He became head coach in 1971 and helped build the Matadors into a competitive NCAA Division II team. In 1990, the program moved to Division I, and Cassidy spent the next six years trying to help the program transition despite meager financial support. He was fired after the 1996 season and finished with an overall record of 334-337.

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Cassidy was inducted into the Cal State Northridge Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004. In recent years, he sponsored a scholarship given to a senior scholar athlete in association with the San Fernando Valley chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

Throughout his time as a teacher and coach at Northridge, he helped inspire countless graduates to enter teaching and coaching. His Basketball 101 class was a must for students who wanted to learn fundamental aspects of the game.

“He was an outstanding coach and outstanding man,” said Hiegert, who was a freshman when he played baseball with Cassidy at then-San Fernando Valley State. Hiegert went on to be a successful Northridge baseball coach, athletic director and colleague, as well as a longtime friend, of Cassidy’s.

Former Northridge basketball player Fluke Fluker, who went into teaching and coaching, said of Cassidy, “His reach goes far. Farther than he could have imagined.”

Cassidy’s survivors include his wife of 57 years, Sandy, sons Kevin and Michael, and daughter Erin.


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