PHILADELPHIA – Penn Athletics and especially the men’s basketball program was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Penn Athletics Hall of Fame Class IX inductee James “Booney” Salters W’80. He was 64 years old.
“This is a really tough day for our program,” said Penn’s John R. Rockwell Head Coach of Men’s Basketball, Steve Donahue. “Booney obviously was a great player and played a key role in some of the most iconic moments in our program’s history. But more than that, he was a guy who just lit up every room that he entered. You look at pictures of Booney at our alumni events and he was always surrounded by smiles and laughter. Just a magnetic personality. He will be missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts go out to his family at this time.”
One of the finest guards ever to step on the hardwood for the Red and Blue, Salters was a three-year letterman who played on NCAA-qualifying teams in each of his varsity seasons at Penn.
Most memorably, of course, he helped the Quakers reach the 1979 Final Four alongside Michigan State (led by NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson), Indiana State (led by NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird) and DePaul (led by two-time NBA champion Mark Aguirre).
A junior and second-team All-Ivy selection that season, Salters played an important role in Penn’s unforgettable run to the Final Four. In the regional final, his clutch 1-and-1 free-throw conversion clinched the victory over St. John’s and sent the Quakers to Utah. His four foul shots from him also provided the winning points against No. 3 North Carolina earlier in the tournament.
As captain and the only senior on the 1979-80 Penn squad, Salters earned first-team All-Big 5 and was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection. He paced the Quakers in nearly every offensive category, leading them in scoring (14.6 ppg), assists (101), field goals made (168) and free throws made (86). In addition, Salters provided the winning bucket in Penn’s 50-49 victory over Princeton in the Ivy League playoff game that season, then led the Quakers into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The youthful Penn team went 17-12 overall but was 11-3 in Ivy play and tied Princeton for the conference title before that win over the Tigers in the playoff. At the end of the season, Salters earned the team’s Most Valuable and Most Inspirational Player awards.
As a sophomore, Salters came off the bench and averaged 4.4 points per game for a Penn squad that went 20-8 overall, won the Ivy title with a 12-2 mark, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinal.
For his career, Salters scored 838 points (9.5 ppg), dished out 258 assists and grabbed 122 rebounds. In addition to his Penn Athletics Hall of Fame node, Booney was a 2008 inductee into the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame.