Upon graduating, Gola was the Explorers’ all-time leading scorer with 2,461. He’s since been passed twice, by Michael Brooks (2,628) and Lionel Simmons (3,217).
Reigning rebound king
All these years later, Gola still leads all NCAA men’s basketball players with 2,201 career rebounds. In recent years, Kenneth Faried, from 2007–2011, is the closest anyone has gotten—and Faried’s career total is 528 rebounds shy of Gola’s mark.
After basketball, Gola won election in 1968 to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives—a post he left in order to campaign for (and win) the role of Philadelphia city controller just one year later. He fell short in his 1983 run for Philadelphia mayor.
On the bench
As a newly elected politician, Gola held a parallel post—as coach of the Explorers men’s basketball team. He led the 1968-68 squad, with four future NBA players, to a 23-1 mark in the first of his two seasons on the bench.
Gola died in January 2014, shortly after his 81st birthday. His legacy, nationally and at La Salle, remains strong. Considered one of the greatest college basketball players of all time, he was the first to record more than 2,000 points and 2,000 rebounds. And on campus, he is the namesake of Tom Gola Arena at TruMark Financial Center, the indoor athletic arena and complex for La Salle Athletics.