| Wins against Kentucky - 1 | Losses against Kentucky - 0 |
Alma Mater: Cornell 
Date Died: October 30, 2008
Overall Record: 139-79 [9 Seasons]
|12/28/1966||Cornell at Kentucky||L||77 - 92||-|
Obituary - Cornell Basketball Blog (November 6, 2008)
Former Cornell Coach Passes AwayBy Corey Ryan Earle '07
On October 30, 2008, Cornell basketball lost a legend when former captain and head coach Hugh "Sam" MacNeil '51 passed away at age 83 in Franklin, Tennessee.
"Ever since Sam MacNeil took over the hoop coaching chores at the University, Cornell's basketball fortunes have been on a steady rise." So began an article in The Cornell Daily Sun on January 9, 1962 during Sam's third season as head coach. Sam's nine seasons with Cornell ended a five season losing streak and remain the only nine seasons in Cornell history without a losing record. His 139 wins and 79 losses gave him a .638 winning percentage, the second best in Cornell history behind the legendary Albert Sharpe, coach from 1912-19 with a 78-32 record.
Sam was only the second Cornell alumnus to hold the position of head coach, following in the footsteps of former captain and coach Howard B. Ortner '19. As a student in the College of Agriculture, Sam was a three-year letter winner from 1949 to 1951 and served as co-captain in his senior year. The 1950-51 team that he captained was the first and only Cornell team to reach 20 wins until the stellar 2007-08 season and still holds the records for most assists in a season (530) and best season winning percentage (20-5, .800).
A true scholar athlete, Sam also played outfield on the baseball team and was selected for membership in the Ho-Nun-De-Kah honorary. He was further recognized in his senior year for leadership on and off the field with selection for the Quill & Dagger Society, an honor he shared with former coach Ortner '19.
Following graduation, Sam taught high school in Geneseo, NY before returning to Cornell in 1954 as coach of the freshmen basketball team. After five years with the freshmen, he was appointed head coach of basketball in 1959. Despite his skill at producing winning seasons, Sam was strongly criticized throughout his tenure for his inability to bring home the Ivy title, although his teams tied for second in 1966 and 1967. However, his critics would soon miss him; after Sam's resignation in 1968, it would take more than fifteen years for Cornell to see another winning season.
Sam's teams were responsible for major upsets over Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio State, putting Cornell in the national spotlight. He was quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying, "We're just a country school enjoying the game."
Following his coaching career, Sam dedicated himself to public service. He served on the Tompkins County Board of Representatives (1970-78), as Chairman of the Board (1976-78), and in the New York State Assembly (1979-88). Sam retired to Mississippi in 1989 and moved to Tennessee in 2004.
Upon Sam's departure from coaching, the March 13, 1968 issue of The Cornell Daily Sun summarized his career: "From a losing tradition, MacNeil brought Cornell basketball to a position where it could play almost any team in the country and give it at least a hard fight."
Sam was inducted into the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982 as a player and coach.
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