Former UP Men’s Basketball coach Jack Avina passes away at 89

By Kyle Garcia | October 24, 2018 4:26pm
Former UP head basketball coach Jack Avina passed away on Oct. 4. He was 89.
Media Credit: University of Portland Athletics / The Beacon

Jack Avina, former head coach for the University of Portland men’s basketball team, passed away on Oct. 4 in Lafayette, California. He was 89.

Avina is remembered as one of the most successful coaches in UP history, garnering the most career wins as well as coaching four future UP Hall of Famers. Avina was coach for the Pilots from 1970-1987. It was the longest tenure of any head basketball coach.

Though his overall record as head coach was only 222-243, Avina’s Pilots had a stretch from 1977-1982 where he put together five straight winning seasons, a record of 88-49. Multiple players, including all-time scoring and assists leaders Jose Slaughter and Darwin Cook, would go on to play professionally after playing under Avina, according to a press release from UP.

Avina faced stiff competition during his tenure, coming out on top multiple times. He took down Oregon State twice during an era when they were consistently ranked among the nation’s best and also faced off against then conference stalwart University of San Francisco.

He also coached internationally in Turkey and Brazil and held clinics around the world.

Avina’s is survived by his six children and 13 grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Nov. 11 from 1-4 p.m. at Riverside Golf & Country Club. 

Kyle Garcia is the sports editor for The Beacon. He can be reached at