La Salle Basketball Great Tom Gola Dies

By Sarah Glover
|  Monday, Jan 27, 2014  |  Updated 1:03 AM EDT
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La Salle coach Speedy Morris talks about the impact of basketball star Tom Gola.

NBC10 - John Clark

La Salle coach Speedy Morris talks about the impact of basketball star Tom Gola.

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Basketball Star Tom Gola Dies

La Salle basketball great Tom Gola died today.

Tom Gola's Wife

Tom Gola's wife Caroline talks about the man she loved.
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One of Philadelphia's greatest college athletes has passed away.

Tom Gola was a star basketball player at La Salle University. Gola led La Salle to a NCAA championship and an NIT title in the 1950s. He earned the MVP award in both tournaments.

Gola is a Hall of Famer and one of the best college basketball plays in the history of the Big 5. La Salle named its arena after Gola in 1988.

NBC10 sports reporter John Clark spoke to his widow Caroline last year. She described his health as detoriating over the past decade. Gola suffered a fall in which he hit his head, went into a coma and seizures followed. Gola was 81-years-old.

A Philadelphia native, Gola attended La Salle High School, where he won a Philadelphia Catholic League Championship, and declined numerous college scholarship offers from other schools to play college ball for the university. He is one of only two college players to score more than 2,000 points and grab more than 2,000 rebounds (George Washington's Joe Holup is the other). Gold holds the NCAA record with 2,201 rebounds and left La Salle with 2,461 points, third in school history. The Explorers went 102-19 during his playing career.

Gola also served Philadelphia as a politician. He represented Northeast Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania State House and later served as Philadelphia City Controller. He also was a member of many city and government committees.

More on Gola's life and career here.

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