Jim Calhoun, who won three national titles at UConn, then built a program at Division III St. Joseph from the ground up, will receive the Best Coach award at next month's ESPYS.
"I'm honored by it. They have a lot of people they could choose," Calhoun, 77, told the Hartford Courant on Monday. "This is like looking back and saying, 'That guy Calhoun, he yelled and screamed a lot and was tough and fought like crazy, but there might have been a method to his madness to some degree that he really cares about the kids.' "
Calhoun arrived as basketball coach at Storrs in 1986, when the school had four total wins in NCAA play. Since then, the Huskies have won four national titles -- with Calhoun coaching for three of them.
In 26 years at the university, he helped transform UConn from a regional school into one of the nation's top public universities. When he retired in 2012, his 873 wins ranked sixth all-time in Division I men's basketball.
But in 2017, with the itch for the game still there, he announced that he was putting together a men's basketball program at Division III St. Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut, to begin play in the 2018-19 season. Calhoun was officially named coach in 2018.
As he was trying to get St. Joseph's program off the ground, Calhoun was also fighting Stage 4 stomach cancer. Just before the inaugural season began, he had a procedure that removed the cancer. He returned to the team before the first regular-season men's basketball game in St. Joe's history on Nov. 9. He says he's now cancer-free.
St. Joe's won 16 games in its first season, and those wins helped push Calhoun past Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith for career coaching victories on the all-division list.
The ESPYS will air July 10 (ABC, p.m. ET).