Entering his 22nd season as a college head coach and his seventh at the NJIT helm, Jim Casciano has achieved the rare distinction of having directed teams at every level of four-year colleges and at the two-year level.
Last year, Casciano's Highlanders moved up to face NCAA Division I competition, adding another layer to a resume that has seen him lead a two-year program (Valley Forge Military), an NAIA program (Castleton State) and all three NCAA levels--Division III (King's, PA); Division II (St. Michael's, VT, and NJIT) and now the reclassification to Division I by NJIT.
He has produced at least 13 wins in a season at every previous step on the competitive ladder and at three of his stops he revitalized downtrodden programs.
Entering 2006-07 with a 5-4 record coaching lower division teams against Division I teams, Casciano led NJIT to wins in its first two games at the new level, upsetting defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season champion Manhattan and then Rider.
One of the few other coaches with stops at all levels is Michigan coach John Beilein, who directed programs from the junior college level (Erie CC) and all three levels of the NCAA (Division III Nazareth; Division II Le Moyne; and three other Division I programs before Michigan).
Casciano reached two career milestones on the same night, posting his 250th career college head coaching win and his 200th win at the helm of a four-year program. The historic win came in the 2005-06 season opener against St. Michael's of Vermont in the West Chester (PA) tournament. Interestingly, the game was near his hometown of Bridgeport, PA and 88 of his career wins came as coach of St. Michael's from 1983-89.
Casciano has enjoyed success with the Highlanders. In his second season at NJIT (2002-03), his Highlanders finished first in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference and were finalists in the ECAC Division Tournament. That season's 18 wins were the most in NJIT's Division II era. The prior season, Casciano was co-CACC Coach of the Year, after guiding the Highlanders to second place.
Immediately before coming to NJIT, he won the 2001 ECAC Division III South Championship with King's. After amassing 12 combined wins in his first three seasons, the Monarchs turned the corner in the fourth year (13-11; 1st winning season in 6 years) and then improved to 19-9 in 2000-01, before Casciano left for NJIT.
The turnaround at King's was typical of Casciano's career. In his first head coaching position at Castleton (VT) State in 1982-83, he established a school record for victories (14) and earned a berth in the NAIA tournament.
Next, he moved within Vermont to Division II St. Michael's. After two rebuilding years, his 1985-86 squad was 19-10 and Casciano was conference Coach of the Year. The next year brought a conference title, SMC's first 20-win season (20-11) in 12 years and earned the program's first NCAA tournament berth in 20 years.
The following year (1987-88), St. Michael's was ranked first in the nation in Division II in preseason by Sports Illustrated. Again, after the initial rebuilding, Casciano compiled four consecutive winning seasons with St. Michael's.
Returning to the head coaching ranks in 1993, he took over at Valley Forge Military College in Wayne, PA, compiling a 50-19 record and sending five players on to Division I scholarships in three seasons.
Casciano began coaching as a volunteer assistant to the legendary Rollie Massimino at Villanova. He has also assisted at Delaware, Washington & Lee, Old Dominion and Radford, plus three years as a women's basketball assistant at Temple.
He played college basketball at Drexel University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1977. The Bridgeport, PA, native resides in Basking Ridge, NJ, with his wife, Daphne.