Meet Dr. Thomas M. Caccese
Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Director of Athletics Thomas M. Caccese began his affiliation with Penn State Hazleton as an engineering student and basketball player in 1968 after serving in the U.S. Navy.
He went on to earn undergraduate degrees in engineering and health and physical education, his master’s degree in physical education, and a doctoral degree in sports administration. His doctoral dissertation produced the first research on the psychological burnout of college athletic coaches, with several articles published in national and international journals. His other areas of expertise include basketball, ballroom dance, badminton, and sports history.
In his 35-year role as director of athletics, Caccese has overseen the development of Penn State Hazleton’s varsity athletic program which has grown from three sports in 1978 to eight in 2011. Since 1990, Penn State Hazleton teams have won nineteen conference state titles in soccer, tennis, softball, and basketball.
Most notably, he developed a scholar/athlete monitoring program in 1991 which, with the assistance of faculty members, evaluates the classroom performance of each student-athlete. Penn State Hazleton athletes have consistently ranked at the top of the conference in the number and percentage of Academic All-Conference honors.
After 33 years as the head men’s basketball coach, Caccese retired in 2009 as the winningest Penn State men’s basketball coach on record with 459 wins. Under his tutelage, his teams won five eastern conference championships, one conference state championship with a conference winning percentage of 65% over his tenure.
In 1983, he extended his coaching experience and expertise to the community by starting summer basketball camps for boys and girls in grades five through nine. More than 5,000 youngsters have attended the Penn State Hazleton basketball camp.
On an individual level, Caccese has been named “coach of the year” three times and was honored by the Pennsylvania Senate and Pennsylvania House of Representatives for “his exceptional coaching achievements and outstanding contributions to men’s basketball” in 2001.
He was the 2004 badminton Silver Medalist at the Pennsylvania Senior Games and participated in the 2005 National Senior Olympic Games.
In 2005, Caccese was named to the Robert J. Scannell Roll of Honor for his distinguished service and contributions to Penn State’s Commonwealth athletic programs. He was inducted into the Hazleton Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and in 2009 was inducted into the Highacres Sport Hall of Fame.
In 2011, the gym at Penn State Hazleton was officially named the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium for his contributions to the campus, athletics programs and dedication to students.