Alumni National Awards

Department of Intercollegiate Athletics Award Recipients

Lifetime Achievement Award

James A. FoleyJames A. Foley, Jour ’61
Houston, Texas

Legendary sports communication professional Jim calls sports the “toyshop” of the business world. “I’ve been blessed to spend 43 years in that shop,” says Jim, who retired in 2008 after 36 seasons with the Houston Rockets basketball team, making him the longest-serving individual in the franchise’s history.

Jim was raised in LaSalle, Ill., and came to Marquette to study journalism and continue his Catholic education. He also participated in the Naval ROTC program. He cut his teeth as a student assistant in Marquette’s sports information office under seasoned professionals Ted Carpenter and Bob Harlan, Jour ’58, Hon Deg ’97, and also worked as a sports reporter for the Marquette Tribune. Four years after he graduated, he was able to succeed Harlan as Marquette’s sports information director during an exciting era for the men’s basketball program — Al McGuire’s teams went to the 1967 National Invitational Tournament final and earned two NCAA tournament berths.

In 1969 Jim moved to professional sports, becoming the director of public relations for the Milwaukee Bucks. His three years with the team included an NBA Championship in 1971. The Houston Rockets recruited Jim in 1972 to head up their public relations operation, so he and his wife, Carolyn Dahl Foley, headed south. In 1987 the Rockets put Jim behind the microphone, and for the next 21 years, he and play-by-play man Gene Peterson were the voices of the Houston Rockets. Their broadcasts, which included back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995, endeared them to fans, and upon their joint retirement in 2008, the media rooms at the Houston Toyota Center were named in their honor.

Throughout his career, Jim was something of an ambassador for Marquette, regaling Texans with anecdotes and recollections of the Al McGuire era and boosting the university’s profile in the region. Jim sums up his alma mater with the story of how he recently ran into an NBA player, a much younger Marquette alumnus. “A friend asked how we could have so much to talk about when we were about 50 years apart at MU,” Jim says. “The younger alum answered, ‘Once Marquette, always Marquette.’”

Fun Facts: Foley has missed just one of his 11 Marquette class reunions since he graduated. On the road, colleagues called him “” for the “library of facts in his head.” He’s proud of his Irish heritage and served as Grand Marshal of Houston’s 1989 St. Patrick’s Day parade.

He carries a calling card which reads: Retired. No laptop. No lawnmower.