For a man that loves the game of basketball, you might think that thirty-plus years of college coaching, taking Division I college teams to the NCAA tournament 16 times, and winning it all by leading UCLA to the National Championship in 1995 would be enough. You might think Coach Jim Harrick would look back on his many legendary accomplishments and say, “I am going to relax and maybe play a little golf in my retirement.”
On July 25, Jim Harrick will be 81 years old. While he does get on the golf course regularly, he’s also wrapping up his first season as an Assistant Coach of the Cal State University Northridge men’s basketball team.
This past year, the CSUN Matadors, in rebuilding mode, finished with 13 wins, more than twice the number they had in the previous season. They logged victories over Pepperdine, Tennessee State, Rider and took Yale to overtime before losing 94-90. And next year, under head coach Mark Gottfried and assistants Jeff Dunlap, Mo Williams, and Jim Harrick, they’ve set their sights on even greater accomplishments as they focus on the team’s continued growth as a program and the personal development of each student athlete.
At nearly 81 years of age, Jim Harrick works because coaching college basketball and helping to shape the lives of the young men on the team brings him great joy. He’s in exactly the situation every person strives to attain: financial security in retirement that positions you to live life on your own terms, unencumbered by monetary worries and responsibilities.
Monte Harrick is a Managing Director at Fulcrum Partners Los Angeles and son of Coach Harrick. Monte says: Life is about choices. The wonderful thing about my father entering the workforce again at age 80 was the fact that he didn’t need to work; he chose to. While I was growing up, I heard my father frequently referred to himself as a teacher, a teacher of basketball. He came in to the profession as a high school teacher and he always said the basketball court was an extension of his classroom.
I think about my father’s career as a basketball coach and ask myself, “How in the world can you retire as a coach?” Of course, there are the elite college basketball coaches who make millions of dollars a year but that is a very small percentage and that was not my father’s experience.
He retired before the multi-million-dollar packages were part of the compensation dynamic at major universities. My father took advantage of a tax deferred savings tool, a 403(b) plan, to maximize savings opportunities at each college where he coached. And that same benefit he utilized for his long-term savings is part of the same work I do, assisting companies in providing deferred compensation plan opportunities to their employees.
My father is experiencing financial independence in retirement because of his ability to successfully coach and to successfully save! For this reason, even at age 80, he can go back to his professional love…and teach basketball.