DeFruscio Takes New Challenge In Philly

WHEELING — Jay DeFruscio is heading home.

The former Wheeling Jesuit University men’s basketball coach and athletics director is Philadelphia born and bred. To that end, DeFruscio is returning to his roots for his latest career challenge.

The personable, twice-minted hall of famer has agreed to become the president of prestigious Cardinal O’Hara High School in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He will begin those duties July 1.

Ironically, DeFruscio was a star basketball player at Monsignor Bonner High School in Philly, arch-rival of Cardinal O’Hara.

DeFruscio is currently the associate commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference. He has held that post since August of 2011.

“Cardinal O’Hara is an interesting opportunity that came up quickly,” DeFruscio said. “They came to me and I had big interest because it meant going back home. My parents and six siblings still reside there.

“The school has a principal who runs the day-to-day operations. Philadelphia Catholic schools no longer have locked in parish feeder schools. So it is total open enrollment. My role will be basically running the team. I will create a culture to yield success. I will be in charge of driving enrollment and lead the fund-raising efforts. Those are two things I did at Jesuit.”

Cardinal O’Hara has fallen on some tough times. A high school that housed 4,500 students during DeFruscio’s prep days, now has enrollment of just under 1,000.

It needed a shot in the arm. It will be DeFruscio’s task to deliver it.

“It is an older school that reminds you of Wheeling Central. They have nice facilities and sports are big there. Tuition is $9,000,” DeFruscio said. “Their enrollment is dropping. My challenge is to promote a vibrant school with a Catholic identity.

“My plan is to put a team together, making use of some current people and bringing in some new ones. There are 17 Catholic high schools in Philadelphia, so we have some work to do. Everything I achieved in coaching and athletics was by surrounding myself with good people. I plan to do the same at Cardinal O’Hara.”

Among his many duties as Atlantic 10 associate czar, DeFruscio oversees the men’s basketball championships. Last season, the tourney was held in Pittsburgh.

The Drexel Hill, Pa., native also handles regular-season scheduling, television selections and the men’s basketball officiating scheduling.

DeFruscio has served on many national committees, including the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball National Committee as the East Region Chair.

“I love my job with the Atlantic 10. I really do. But when you get to my age (56) you start wondering about where are you going to live later in life. We had two choices, Philadelphia or the Ohio Valley,” DeFruscio said. “There just wasn’t any real good career options back in the valley.

“The Ohio Valley is a great place and Wheeling Jesuit will always have a special place in my heart. I loved my time there. This new opportunity enables me to be close to my family. Will it be my last stop? You never know.”

DeFruscio is highly regarded in Ohio Valley basketball circles. He served as men’s basketball coach at Wheeling Jesuit University for 18 seasons while also serving as the Cardinals’ athletic director.

He left WJU for an opportunity to coach in the NBA. He was an Indiana Pacers’ assistant for four seasons before accepting his position with the Atlantic 10, which is based in Newport News, Va.

DeFruscio earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Business Administration from Ursinus College in 1982 and a Master’s in Business Administration from Wheeling Jesuit in 1986. He is a member of both institutions’ Halls of Fame.

DeFruscio and his wife, Cathy, have four children.

Cardinal O’Hara High School is a co-educational Catholic High School of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The school is named after John Francis O’Hara who was Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia from 1951 to 1960. It opened in September 1963.

PROSSER CLASSIC

The second annual Skip Prosser Classic will be staged Friday, Jan. 26 at Linsly School, featuring the boys teams from Wheeling Central and Linsly.

The Maroon Knights won the inaugural contest in overtime after the Cadets battled back from 20 points down.

The game provides scholarship money in Prosser’s name at both schools. The former Central and Linsly head coach was proactive in supporting students during his stellar career.

Former Bishop Donahue and Shadyside head coach John Stanko is one of the driving forces in making the Prosser Classic a success. He notes that corporate sponsors, donors and community support are greatly appreciated for the second year of the event.

After his successful tenures at Linsly and Wheeling Central, Prosser enjoyed a tremendous collegiate head coaching career at Xavier and Wake Forest. He died July 26, 2007 at age 56 while head coach at Wake.

BUBBA’S BITS

Former Linsly School standout Jabri Blount is on the move. The talented 6-foot-7 forward is transferring to North Carolina Central this year after playing at Cleveland State last winter. Blount spent two years at Linsly before completing his prep career at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, home of LeBron James. Blount earned All-Ohio honors his senior year at St. V. North Carolina Central went 25-9 a year ago, winning the MEAC championship and gaining a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

∫ Wheeling Post 1 is reigning two-time state American Legion baseball champion. Those two state title teams are being honored today when Post 1 plays host to Parkersburg in a twinbill beginning at 1 p.m. at I-470. The ceremony will take place between games. All Post 1 alumni are urged to attend.

∫ Liz Repella is a special young lady. She enjoyed a remarkable basketball career. She tallied more than 2,000 points in her all-state career with the Steubenville Big Red before starring at WVU where she was also an Academic All-American. Liz has also served as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan and WVU. She just received a master’s degree from WVU in industrial relations and will be will be heading to Modesto, Calif., soon where she begins working in the human relations department for PepsiCo. Liz spoke to a group of youngsters Saturday at the Cynthia Basketball Camp at Steubenville Catholic Central. She was captivating and inspirational.

∫ West Liberty University officials made a superb move by naming Don Clegg as the Hilltoppers’ sports information director. Clegg became affiliated with West Liberty after a 26-year career as a sports reporter and editor at the Wheeling News-Register and The Intelligencer. He has been providing extensive editorial services to the WLU athletic department as a professional freelance writer since 2009. Clegg also serves as a member of West Liberty’s Athletic Hall of Fame Committee. Don is one of the true giants in the sports reporting business.

∫ Golden State is a tremendous basketball team. But the Warriors’ celebration Monday night after winning the NBA title was much too lavish. The team spent $200,000 on champagne for the championship celebration. That is a senseless waste of money.

∫ The rumor mill has Wheeling Jesuit University making a major announcement concerning athletics this week.

∫ Kudos to Wheeling Park’s Cross Wilkinson. The talented quarterback has accepted a scholarship offer from Toledo. It is refreshing to see great work ethic and character rewarded with a D-I scholarship.

Bubba Kapral can be reached via email at: bkapral@timesleaderonline.com

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