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Covington native Charley Wolf died at 96, made a mark in basketball and as patriarch of a sports family

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

Yes, there once was a professional basketball team in Cincinnati.

And it was coached by Charley Wolf, a native of Covington.

Charley Wolf

Wolf died at the age of 96 Saturday – but not before he made quite a mark – not only in basketball – but as the patriarch to one this area’s top sports families.

Wolf attended Newport Central Catholic High School and switched to St. Xavier High in downtown Cincinnati after two years.

In fact, one of his six sons – Steve, a former Xavier University basketball star – once told me his dad took the streetcar from Fort Thomas to school daily.

A football, baseball and basketball star, Wolf was inducted in St. Xavier’s first Hall of Fame class – he graduated the school in 1944.
He attended college at the University of Notre Dame – but eventually got his degree at Xavier University.

He played football for the Irish before an injury derailed his career.

Coaching was in his blood – and he got his start at Villa Madonna – now Thomas More University.

He rose quickly, and in 1960 Charley Wolf was named head coach of the Cincinnati Royals of the National Basketball Association.

He coached them three seasons, won 118 games, lost 121 and then moved to Detroit and coached the NBA’s Pistons for 81 games in two seasons.

His career professional coaching record was 143-187.

“Dad had six boys,” Steve told me, “And all six were captains of our high school teams—and some captains of our college teams – and all six owned and operated a business.”

That’s some legacy.

Charley’s boys – Marty, Steve, Greg, Jeff, Dan and David.

They all attended St. Xavier. Marty played basketball and tennis. Steve did the same at NC State and later Xavier. Greg was a basketball performer at Spring Hill College. And Jeff, Dan and David went to Rollins College in Florida.

Charley played tennis until he was 92, Steve told me the last time we spoke, about two months ago, when a package I sent him arrived at his business.

Charley Wolf leaves six sons, 19 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren – and a sports history that will be hard to match.

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