How the Martellis continue to make college basketball a true family affair

Reposted except from an article written by The Philadelphia Inquirer on Jun 18, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET

Great article by the Philadelphia Inquirer featuring Phil Martelli, St. Philomena class of 1968, who is an active supporter of SS. Cyril & Philomena Catholic School! Our principal, Ms. Brigid McClelland, had the privilege of meeting him last November when he was inducted into the Philly Sports Hall of Fame!


The Martelli family has basketball in its blood, with Phil an assistant at Michigan and his youngest son, Jimmy, joining the Big Ten ranks as an assistant at Penn State.

In Philadelphia circles, the Martelli name is synonymous with basketball.

Phil Martelli is the winningest coach at St. Joseph’s, where he led the Hawks from 1995 until 2019. Today, he is the associate head coach at Michigan.

Now, another Martelli is rising in the coaching ranks. Phil’s son Jimmy was the director of operations at Virginia Commonwealth for seven years. When coach Mike Rhoades left the Rams to take over at Penn State, Jimmy followed in the same capacity. But after just a week in State College, he was promoted to assistant coach.

“Coach [Rhoades] basically told me don’t unpack anything and move across the hall,” Jimmy said. “It was an awesome opportunity. Being back in Pennsylvania, being in the Big Ten is kind of a dream come true. I don’t think I’ve woken up yet.”

For his father, the overwhelming feeling is gratitude.

“I have this wonder [in that] I wonder how far he can take this,” Phil said. “I’m elated for my son, and very grateful to Mike Rhoades for giving him this opportunity.”

The family business

The Martelli family has basketball in its blood. Phil draws the spotlight for his achievements on Hawk Hill, but his wife, Judy Marra Martelli, is the Martelli in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Judy won three straight national championships at Immaculata from 1972 to 1974, and in 2014, she was inducted along with her Mighty Macs teammates. Both of their sons went into basketball, and Phil Jr., Jimmy’s older brother, is now the associate head coach at Bryant.

Phil Jr. knew from high school that he would become a coach. It took Jimmy longer. There was no pressure from his parents, who advised him to follow his passion, even in childhood — when he wanted to be an astronaut. He started thinking about coaching in high school, but it wasn’t until college that it was clear both brothers had caught the bug.

“We saw what basketball and … college athletics, in general, can do and what doors that can open, not just for ourselves and our family, but to help young men open doors that they didn’t know were even possible,” Jimmy said. “… I think we were able to see that with my dad without ever really talking about it. We saw the impact that he had on a daily basis on so many people on so many levels.”

He got his start coaching at his alma mater, Dickinson College, for a year, then was hired by Rhoades in 2006 to be an assistant coach at Division III Randolph-Macon.

Phil speaks highly of his son as a coach, describing his passion for the game and his work ethic. However, he’s most proud of his son as a father. Jimmy has three daughters, twin 9-year-olds and a 5-year-old, and Phil says he always puts his family first.

Family reunion

Penn State will play Michigan once in the regular season next year, hosting the Wolverines. Father has faced son before when VCU played St. Joe’s twice a year in Atlantic 10 play. Both think it will be tougher for their families than for them.

“The beauty is, that at the end of the game, whatever the result is, we’re going to hug, say ‘Love you,’” Phil said. “My hope for Penn State is that they win every game but [one] next year, and I would know that he feels the same way.”

While at VCU, Jimmy would regularly watch Michigan games with his family. However, his daughters quickly understood that they won’t be rooting for their grandfather.

“They had some Michigan gear from their grandfather that they would wear,” Jimmy said. “… Somehow, that’s not going to make the move up here to State College, I can guarantee you that.”