Facility Renovation, Alums Helping March Madness Schools, Keep Fordham’s Hoops Future Warm

An 82-71 overtime loss to George Mason in the Opening Round of last week’s Atlantic 10 Tournament certainly wasn’t what Fordham fans or coach Jeff Neubauer were hoping for in his second year, nor was a disappointing 13-19 record that saw wins over March Madness-bound teams like VCU and Rhode Island but losses to non-conference schools like Sacred Heart and Manhattan.

However Rams fans got some good news this past weekend, on the 25th anniversary of their last trip to March Madness, the 1992 Patriot League title, when the school announced that the renovation of Rose Hill Gym with a $2.5 million fundraising campaign, of which more than $1.3 million has been raised to support the University’s efforts. The center of the renovation will be the renaming of the McLaughlin Family Court, in honor of alumnus and longtime athletic director Frank McLaughlin and his family.

There will be new spectator seating, a state-of-the-art wood surface, and an upper balcony with a hospitality suite. The prospective changes offer the most significant renovation to date for the 92-year-old, 3,200-seat gym, which has had several small-scale upgrades over the last 15 years. McLaughlin helped guide the Rams to the National Invitation Tournament in 1968 and 1969, scoring in double figures both years. The former hoops star also helped win a record-breaking 23 home games in two seasons, defeating Seton Hall, Syracuse, and Georgetown, among others. Later, he served as an assistant to famed basketball coach Richard “Digger” Phelps on the nationally ranked 1971 Fordham men’s team before serving as the University’s athletics director for 27 years. In 2016, he was inducted into the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.

The McLaughlin family has been associated with the Rose Hill Gym since 1945. The son of a New York City police officer, McLaughlin grew up in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, where he said basketball was the premier sport in his family. His three brothers, Walter, FCRH ’53, Tommy, and Jackie graduated from Fordham Preparatory School on the Rose Hill campus—and they all played on the court as well.

That wasn’t the only reason for anticipation and good karma on Selection Sunday, as several with Fordham ties are heading to The Big Dance, albeit with schools far from Rose Hill. Two transfer players, Jon Severe (Fordham graduate, now at Iona) and Eric Paschall (now at Villanova) will be key members of the Gaels and Wildcats fortunes this week, while a host of former Fordham players and assistance; ranging from former assistant Rob Senderoff, now head coach at Kent State, to assistants Fred Quartlebaum (Kansas), Jerry Hobbie (SMU) and Jared Grasso (Iona). Several others with Fordham ties are playing in other tourneys as well, as associate head coach Jean Prioleau will be with Colorado and assistant coach Tim O’Toole will be with Cal in the NIT, while former Rams associate head coach Tom Parrotta will help guide Fairfield in the CIT.

While it’s not the same as Fordham in postseason play, it gives Fordham faithful a reason to tune in and cheer, with the new news buoying hopes that the Rams will finally turn the corner in the Atlantic 10. Hope always springs eternal in the Bronx.

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