Groundbreaking men's basketball coach and athletic director had an indelible impact on the lives of countless Fairfield student-athletes.
The Fairfield University community mourns the loss of George Bisacca, former men’s basketball coach and director of athletics, who passed peacefully on Tuesday night.
Throughout his life, Bisacca had a strong calling to service whether it was as a practicing attorney, a basketball coach, or an athletic administrator. His commitment to both Fairfield and the surrounding community was well recognized because of his genuineness. His desire to help others defined his life, before, during, and after his tenure at Fairfield University.
Like a parent nurtures a child, he brought Fairfield University athletics from its infancy into adolescence when he accepted the head men’s basketball coaching position for the 1958-59 season. And when the program was ready, he brought Fairfield University basketball into adulthood by spearheading the transition to Division I status for the 1964-65 campaign. Before long, he found himself competing against the best basketball teams in the country, including top-ranked Houston and its star Elvin Hayes, Niagara University and its star Calvin Murphy, as well as St. Bonaventure and its star Bob Lanier.
For Bisacca, there was no intimidation and there was no fear. If his team played the game the right way, they would be able to compete against any team regardless of how many future Hall of Famers were on the floor. His teams always played properly through a strong work ethic and dedication to the game of basketball, two qualities that mirrored their head coach and the way he lived his life.
But like any child, Fairfield University athletics needed more as it continued to grow and mature. When it came time, Bisacca was there to provide for those needs by accepting the role as director of athletics. It was in this capacity that Bisacca reached out to every student-athlete who donned Fairfield red and brought his love for life forward to so many individuals. It was in this capacity that he cultivated their desire for knowledge and transformed them from college students into doctors, teachers, business executives and so many other professions.
Bisacca wasn’t just about athletics. He was about life. He knew that there was so much more that Fairfield University could offer than a jersey and a place to play. Bisacca viewed his coaching position as his opportunity to shape young minds as an educator, and he made sure that his athletes' desire to succeed in competition was just as strong to succeed in the classroom.
“Coach was more than a basketball coach to us. He was a life coach and mentor who taught us what really mattered,” said Bill Boyd ’67, a former men’s basketball student-athlete who played for Bisacca at Fairfield, and one of the countless alums that remained close to him long after their playing days. “He leaves behind many players, coaches and friends who feel blessed that he came into our lives. Coach Bisacca was a gift!”
While being a basketball coach was his pride and practicing law was his profession, Bisacca’s passion was his family. He was married to his wife Millie for more than 60 years. And their happiness together was further blessed with the birth of each of their six children including Beth Schrager, an alumnus from the Fairfield class of 1974. His family gathered in Alumni Hall on November 6, 2015 as the court within Alumni Hall was named “George Bisacca Court at Alumni Hall”, forever engraving Bisacca’s legacy.
While his passing sends sadness rippling through the University community, we come together to push through our grief by celebrating his life and his commitment to service. It’s the only way he would have wanted it.