| Wins against Kentucky - 0 | Losses against Kentucky - 1 |
Alma Mater: Washington 
Date Died: November 25, 1980
Overall Record: 297-231 [20 Seasons]
|12/15/1972||Nebraska at Kentucky||W||85 - 60||UKIT|
Obituary - Lincoln (NE) Star (November 26, 1980)
Nebraska Coach Cipriano Dies After Year-Long Cancer Battle
by Virgil Parker (Sports Editor)
Joe Cipriano lost a courageous, year-long battle to cancer early Tuesday. The University of Nebraska basketball coach, who would have started his 18th season at the Cornhusker helm this weekend, died at Bryan Memorial Hospital at 5 a.m. He was 49.
Funeral services for Cipriano will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 6001 A Street. Memorials may be sent to the University of Washington Foundation, the University of Nebraska Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.
In addition to three children by his first marriage, Cipriano is survived by his wife, Marva, and his mother, Betty, of Snohomish, Wash.
Cipriano's three children are Mrs. Charles (Tamsen Sue) Bigej of San Bernardino, Calif.; Janice Ann, a senior at the University of Idaho; and Randy, head basketball coach at Ogallala High School.
Randy was a standout basketball player for Lincoln Southeast and later at Kearney State College, where he sparked the Antelopes to a second-place finish in the NAIA national championship tournament in 1978.
Cipriano's illness was diagnosed in October 1979. Two weeks before the opening of the season, on Nov. 12, Cipriano underwent exploratory surgery for the removal of a cyst from his pancreas. Although assistant coach Moe Iba took over the head coaching duties while Cipriano underwent chemotherapy treatments, Cipriano was on the bench for most Husker games last season.
Cipriano and Iba shared Big Eight Coach of the Year honors last winter after guiding the Huskers to a tie for second place in the conference race. The team post an 18-13 overall record and earned a berth in the post-season National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
"I've lost an awful good friend," Iba said. "All that he's done for me and my family can't be put into words. My whole family is very, very sad."
Nebraska Athletic Director Bob Devaney said "the university has lost a great person and I lost a wonderful friend. The courage that Joe Cipriano has shown this past year should be an example and inspiration to Nebraska athletes for years to come."
Cipriano, the dean of the Big Eight basketball coaches, was the winningest coach in Nebraska's 82-year basketball history. Cip compiled an overall record of 254-196 - 168 more victories than any previous NU head basketball coach. He was named the Big Eight Coach of the Year three different times - 1966, 1978 and 1980. Three of his teams earned NIT berths.
Cipriano's 20-year collegiate coaching mark, which included three seasons at the University of Idaho, was 297-231, while his overall record for 24 years in coaching at all levels was 373-265.
Cipriano came to Nebraska during the fall of 1963 at the request of NU Athletic Director Tippy Dye, who had recruited Cipriano as a college player and University of Washington freshman coach.
He came to Nebraska at age 31 after taking Idaho from a 10-16 record his first year to a 13-13 standoff his second and then to a 20-6 winner.
When he arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska hadn't had a winning season in 13 years and had finished above the .500 mark only twice in the previous 26 seasons.
Cip's first Cornhusker club was 7-18, his second 10-16. But his third season resulted in a 20-5 turnaround, Nebraska's second-best campaign ever.
That Husker team finished second in the Big Eight, garnered Cipriano his first conference Coach of the Year award and saw Nebraska ranked 11th nationally in the final Associated Press poll.
The next year Nebraska went to the NIT with 16-9 mark, the first Big Eight team to ever play in that tournament.
In Cipriano's final 15 seasons at Nebraska, only two of his teams finished below .500.
His most successful season at Nebraska came in 1977-78 when he guided the Huskers to a 22-8 mark - tying the school record for most wins - a second-place finish in the Big Eight and a quarterfinal berth n the NIT, losing to eventual champion Texas.
Cipriano grew up in Sumas, Wash., playing his high school ball at nearby Nooksac Valley High School before being recruited by Dye to play for him at the University of Washington.
While at Washington (1950-53), where Cipriano was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, the Huskies were 79-15, won the Pacific Coast Conference title all three years and finished third in the NCAA tournament his senior season. The playmaking guard of the team, Cipriano acquired the nickname "Slippery Joe" for his quick moves on the court. He was selected to play in the 1953 East-West Shrine Game in New York.
Upon graduation, Cipriano played for the AAU Buchan Bakers of Seattle for three years, touring the Orient and Europe. After returning to the United States, Cip coached high school ball for one year. Then Dye brought him back to the Washington campus to coach the freshmen, a job he held for three seasons before taking over as the head coach at Idaho.
Other coaching assignments during his career included being a member of Henry Iba's coaching staff at the 1972 Olympic tryout camp at the Air Force Academy; conducting a series of clinics in Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines on a U.S. Air Force-sponsored tour in 1973; and being a member of the coaching staff at the Aloha Classic in Hawaii in the spring of 1974. He also took Nebraska on a summer tour of Italy in 1974 and on trips to Hawaii in 1967, 1976 and this past season.
In the summer of 1979, Cipriano was a member of the U.S. Pan American basketball trials coaching staff and also toured Europe with the American team, which was coached by Indiana's Bobby Knight.
In addition to the many other honors he received while at Nebraska, Cipriano was given special recognition by the 1980 Legislature, which commended him for his "competitive spirit, sportsmanship and personal qualities."
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