Roadrunner Athletics mourns the passing of Steve Solomone, the former men's basketball coach who guided the program to an NJCAA Division III championship during the school's rise to national prominence in the 1990s.
Solomone was the architect of a sparkling 301-48 career record from 1991 to 2001, when the Roadrunners dominated NJCAA competition. His 1993-1994 team fashioned a perfect 30-0 record, the only men's collegiate team in the nation to finish unbeaten that season, as they rolled to the NJCAA Division III national crown.
His teams of the 1990s, which at one time captured 47 consecutive wins over two seasons, were simply unstoppable. Gloucester County College (now Rowan College of South Jersey) won six NJCAA Region 19 championships and finished second nationally in 1996 with a 31-4 record, and third in 1997 with a 32-3 mark. Solomone coached eight All-Americans during his tenure, including former star Marvin Stinson, who led the Roadrunners during their national championship run in the spring of 1994.
Former GCC Athletic Director Ron Case, who oversaw Roadrunner Athletics through most of Solomone's glory years, said the program's success was no fluke. The personable Solomone, along with other legendary coaches such as baseball skipper Barry Davis, led Roadrunners Athletics to national prominence throughout that era.
“Coach Solomone was an amazing recruiter who really cared for his players," said Case. “He had many great players who went on to play at NCAA four-year schools and many of whom enjoyed personal successes in their lives.
“He also knew how to work the sidelines. His teams never engaged in a run-and-gun offense. They ran set offenses, and Coach Solomone made sure they played great defense. His teams were always well prepared and worked hard for the success they achieved."
Solomone received several honors during his time at GCC, including six Region 19 Coach of the Year awards (1994-1997, 1999, and 2000), the NJCAA Coach of the Year honor in 1995, and the NJCAA Division III Coach of the Year award in 1994.
Not only was Solomone stellar on the sideline, but he gave back to the basketball community as well. He served as a guest speaker at the NJCAA Men's Basketball Coaches Association meeting in 1995. He also ran local youth basketball camps from 1991 to 2001 and was a guest speaker at basketball camps and clinics throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Coach Solomone, a member of three Halls of Fame — the Rowan College Roadrunner HOF, Gloucester County Sports HOF, and the NJCAA Men's Basketball HOF — often returned to the Roadrunner Athletics Complex in recent years to support his beloved program. He was always appreciative of the recognition he received, including a "Coach Steve Solomone Night" held by the College in 2017.
"Coach Solomone is one of our most beloved of all coaches here at RCSJ and Gloucester County College," said Brian Rowan, executive director for Athletics. "He and his family have meant a lot to the men's basketball program for all of their contributions to the college. I was fortunate enough to have played for coach, worked many of his summer basketball camps, and was there for all three of his Hall of Fame inductions. He cared so much for every athlete, assistant coach, and manager here and helped so many achieve their goals. He spoke to many of my teams through the years and passed on his wisdom and motivation. In recent years, whenever he would come to a game, we would bring in a big tray of meatballs and invite younger coaches and members of our staff in to listen to his stories. Everyone loved to be around him. One of our all-time contributors."