Courtesy St.Michael’s Sports Information
COLCHESTER — Edward P. Markey ’51, one of the most significant figures in the history of Saint Michael’s College Athletics, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 90. The longest-serving athletic administrator ever at the College, Markey was a director of athletics and baseball and basketball coach for more than four decades as well as a standout two-sport student-athlete. Visitation is set for Sunday at Ready Funeral Home at 261 Shelburne Road in Burlington (1-3, 5-7 p.m.) before a funeral mass is on the Saint Michael’s campus on Monday at 10:30 a.m.
Markey, a West New York, N.J., native, was appointed director of athletics in 1968, after the death of friend George “Doc” Jacobs, the father of modern athletics at the College. When Markey began, Saint Michael’s was all-male, offered only six varsity sports and had no on-campus athletic facilities. Upon his retirement in 1997, the College had 20 varsity sports – with seeds having been planted for the 21st, women’s ice hockey, which began in 2000-01 – and had indoor and outdoor athletic complexes at an institution that went coed in the mid-1970s.
“Ed Markey’s legend at Saint Michael’s is immense – we lost a College titan with his passing today,” said Director of Athletics Chris Kenny ’86. “His tireless and selfless service to the Purple Knights over five decades could never be duplicated, and his meaningful impact on people and sport transcended far beyond our campus. A nationally-respected coach and administrator, his loyalty and dedication to Saint Michael’s and his pristine level of integrity were iconic. I was blessed to have been mentored by him and to call him my friend.”
Markey has been recognized numerous times by countless organizations. A 1988 inductee into the Saint Michael’s Athletic Hall of Fame, Markey joined the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Hall of Fame in 2000, the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, the Northeast-10 Conference Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. An NCAA cornerstone in New England, he was president of the New England College Athletic Conference, chairman of the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Selection Committee, member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Executive Council, and recipient of the Alvin “Doggy” Julian Award for distinguished service to college basketball.
A three-year starter on the hardwood and the diamond, during an era when eligibility rules prohibited first-years from playing varsity sports, Markey captained each team to state championships. In addition to being named all-state while playing key middle infield positions in baseball, he was the basketball squad’s floor general, leading the Purple Knights to a 51-17 mark as well as two National Catholic Invitation Tournament bids.
After a two-year stint in the Army, Markey returned to his alma mater in 1955. With Jacobs at the helm of the basketball program, Markey was his assistant coach and the freshman team coach for eight years, leading the Purple Squires to a 70-15 record. Saint Michael’s qualified for its first four NCAA Tournaments between 1956-57 and 1959-60, also winning state titles each year while finishing as the national runner-up in 1957-58.
Markey took the reins of the varsity program early in the 1963-64 season, leading the Purple Knights to eight state crowns and a 134-86 record over nine years. In his first full season, Saint Michael’s went 21-7 and made a run to the 1965 NCAA Final Four. A Sweet 16 trip followed in 1967, when the Purple and Gold was 23-4. Markey retired from his coaching position after the 1971-72 season but left the team in position to make back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1972-73 and 1973-74. Between his time as freshman head coach and varsity head and assistant coach, Markey and his Purple Knights totaled 323 wins against 163 losses, a 66.5 percent winning percentage.
Markey coached the only two NBA Draft selections in College history, with Rich Tarrant ’65 chosen by the Boston Celtics during the fourth round in 1965 and Dick Falkenbush ’67 taken in the 10th round by the Saint Louis Hawks in 1967. Markey was named United Press International (UPI) New England Coach of the Year both of those seasons, and was lauded as the top coach in the state multiple times.
Markey coached Saint Michael’s baseball for two different stints over a total of 19 seasons, claiming 80 wins during a time when playing fewer than 10 games per spring was common. After guiding the Purple Knight nine between 1957 and 1969, Markey resumed his head coach duties in 1976 following the offseason death of head coach and former teammate Joe Pattison ’49. Markey led the team until 1981, its final season prior to being revived in 1990.
Markey and his son, Edward W. Markey ’81, were the first father-son duo inducted into the Saint Michael’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and remain one of two such tandems.