Joe Cantafio – Wikipedia

Joseph Cantafio (born April 6, 1952) is an American retired college basketball coach. Cantafio spent a total of eleven seasons as a head coach, with the Virginia Military Institute (1986–1994) and Furman University (1994–1997). A graduate of the University of Scranton, Cantafio is vice president of The Blewitt Foundation, an organization that supports military families, as well as an assistant director at the Center for Sports Leadershipfor for Virginia Commonwealth University.[1] He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.[1]

Early life[edit]

Cantafio was born on April 6, 1952 in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, and attended Dunmore High School.[2] He attended college at the nearby University of Scranton and graduated in 1974 with a BS in history. Cantafio played on the school’s basketball team for three years and was captain of the team as a senior.[2] He also lettered in baseball and received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship from Scranton.[3]

Coaching career[edit]

Cantafio began coaching immediately following his graduation from Scranton, joining Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1974. He led the Crusaders for four seasons in which he posted a 91–25 record at the school. Cantafio then spent one year with Abington Heights High School in his home state of Pennsylvania.

Following a 13–15 campaign at Abington Heights, Cantafio then joined DeMatha Catholic High School as an assistant where he served under legendary Morgan Wootten (who has the second most wins as a head coach in the history of basketball on any level and is a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame).[4] In his three years under Wootten at DeMatha Catholic, the Stags went 83–9.

In 1982, Cantafio left for an assistant coaching job at the Virginia Military Institute where he worked under his predecessor Marty Fletcher for four seasons. Following Fletcher’s departure, Cantafio assumed the position of head coach and led the Keydets for eight years. He never earned a winning season at VMI, though he did lead the 1987–88 team to the Southern Conference tournament finals.[5][page needed] Cantafio resigned following the 1993–94 season and became the head coach of the Furman Paladins, a Southern Conference foe of VMI.[6]

Cantafio was unable to gain success with Furman as he led the Paladins to a 30–47 record in three years. He announced in February 1997 that he would resign at the end of that season.[7] He noted that he was tired of coaching, and said that, “As I was watching, it just dawned on me. There’s a lot more to life than basketball.”[8] Cantafio also stated that he was unable to relax while coaching, and that some Furman boosters and alumni were not happy with the team’s progress.

Personal life[edit]

Following the end of his coaching career, Cantafio became involved with Virginia Commonwealth University, and was hired as an assistant director to VCU’s SportsCenter, which helps students seeking a career in athletics. He is also the Head of Programs for The Blewitt Foundation, which seeks to comfort and assist military families, particularly children.[1] Cantafio earned a master’s degree in Sports Leadership from VCU in 2001.

Cantafio is married to his wife, Della, and the couple has two children: a daughter, Carissa, and a son, Joey. Joey is currently the Director of Basketball Operations at Lamar University.[9] He played basketball for Virginia Military Institute[10] from 2007–09 before transferring to and graduating from Hampden–Sydney College in 2011.[11]

Head coaching record[edit]

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
VMI Keydets (Southern Conference) (1986–1994)
1986–87 VMI 11–17 5–11 6th
1987–88 VMI 13–17 6–10 7th
1988–89 VMI 11–17 5–9 7th
1989–90 VMI 14–15 7–7 T–4th
1990–91 VMI 10–18 5–9 6th
1991–92 VMI 10–18 3–11 T–6th
1992–93 VMI 5–22 3–15 9th
1993–94 VMI 5–23 2–16 10th
VMI: 79–147 36–88
Furman Paladins (Southern Conference) (1994–1997)
1994–95 Furman 10–17 6–8 T–3rd (South)
1995–96 Furman 10–17 6–8 3rd (South)
1996–97 Furman 10–17 4–10 5th (South)
Furman: 30–47 16–26
Total: 109–198

      National champion  
      Postseason invitational champion  

      Conference regular season champion  
      Conference regular season and conference tournament champion

      Division regular season champion
      Division regular season and conference tournament champion

      Conference tournament champion



  1. ^ a b c Joseph V. Cantafio – The Blewitt Foundation
  2. ^ a b c “Cantafio Leaves VMI For Furman” (PDF). The Cadet. Lexington, VA: Virginia Military Institute. March 25, 1994. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-14. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  3. ^ “Previous Scholarship Recipients.” Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  4. ^ NFHS Record Book
  5. ^ 2013–14 VMI Basketball Fact Book
  6. ^ Hardesty, Abe (March 22, 1994). “Cantafio a perfect fit”. The Greenville News. p. D1. Retrieved November 15, 2020 – via
  7. ^ “Furman’s Cantafio Announces Resignation.” February 14, 1997. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  8. ^ “Furman Coach Quits.” The Augusta Chronicle. February 15, 1997. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  9. ^ Joey Cantafio Lamar University Bio
  10. ^ Joey Cantafio VMI Bio
  11. ^ Joey Cantafio – Hampden-Sydney Bio
  12. ^ Furman Paladins – Sports Reference Archived 2014-07-06 at the Wayback Machine