Meminger was born in Walterboro, South Carolina, and starred at Rice High School in New York City. He attended Marquette University, where he played for coach Al McGuire. He helped Marquette win the 1970 National Invitational Tournament. Marquette’s 1970 team was ranked 8th in the country and was invited to the NCAA tournament. Following a dispute whether to play in the Mid-East or Mid-West Regional, Marquette declined the bid and opted to play in the NIT, where the team outclassed the field. The NCAA was so incensed by Marquette, it instituted a rule which forced an NCAA Division I team to accept an NCAA bid over an NIT bid. A subsequent antitrust case brought by the NIT against the NCAA over this issue was later settled out of court. Meminger was also the MVP of the 1970 National Invitation Tournament, in which Marquette beat Pete Maravich and LSU 101-79 in the semi-finals before defeating St. John’s 65-53 in the title game. Meminger was drafted in the first round (number 16 overall) of the 1971 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks, with whom he played from 1971 to 1974 and 1976-1977. Meminger played for the Atlanta Hawks from 1974 to 1976.
Meminger was head coach of the New York Stars in the Women’s Professional Basketball League (abbreviated WBL), which played three seasons from the fall of 1978 to the spring of 1981. Meminger, with rookie trainer Rick Capistran at his side, guided the Stars to the league championship during the 1979-80 season and was named the league’s coach of the year. The team’s great success, however, was not enough to save the Stars, which lost so much money the team folded without being able to repeat as champions. Meminger was coaxed to head west, leaving Capistran behind, when he signed up to coach the San Francisco Pioneers in what would be the league’s final season.
Among the players Meminger coached to a championship were twins Faye and Kaye Young, fresh out of North Carolina State University. Kaye was married to former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher. Kaye Cowher died of skin cancer at age 54 on July 23, 2010. In 1982 Meminger was hired to coach the Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Association. He was dismissed for his combative style with his players and replaced by his former Knicks teammate and friend Phil Jackson. Meminger convinced Jackson to let him try out for the team but he was unable to resurrect his career on the court. Meminger coached the USBL’s Long Island Knights in 1987, and in later years, spent some time coaching at Manhattanville College in New York.
On November 22, 2009, Meminger was rescued from a fire in the Bronx, NYC. Suffering from smoke inhalation, he was admitted to the burn unit of Jacobi Medical Center. Meminger recovered and would remain active in local basketball events. He and trainer Rick Capistran reconnected after 30 years when Capistran tracked his old coach down after reading about Meminger’s brush with death in the ’09 fire. Meminger was found dead at the Casablanca Hotel in Harlem on August 23, 2013.
- May, 13, 1948
- Walterboro, South Carolina
- August, 23, 2013
- Harlem, New York
- Woodlawn Cemetery
- Bronx, New York City, New York