Santa Barbara City College legendary men’s basketball coach Frank Carbajal has died after a lengthy illness. He was 78.

Jim McCoy, a former player of Carbajal’s at SBCC, reported the coach’s passing in an email to Noozhawk Thursday morning after receiving a message from friend David Rosales, another former Vaquero.

“With great sadness, this is to inform you that Coach Carb passed away earlier this morning,” Rosales wrote. “As many of you know, he’d been battling Progressive Supranuclear Palsy for the last few years. Plans for a memorial service will likely be finalized in the next few days and I will do my best to communicate.

“Rest in Peace Buddy!!!”

Carbajal enjoyed a successful 10-year career (1978-88) at SBCC. He guided the Vaqueros to two State Community College Final Fours, reaching the championship game in the 1983-84 season, won four Western State Conference championships and finished runner-up twice. His teams won 21 or more games seven times and five of his players earned All-American honors. His record at SBCC was 195-115.

His teams were always known for playing tough defense. The Vaqueros were twice ranked No. 1 in the state in defense between 1979-82.

“SBCC was one of the best junior college programs in the country during his tenure,” said McCoy.

He coached two future NBA players at SBCC: Chris McNealy and Ron Anderson.

Carbajal also coached basketball at DeAnza and Hartnell Community Colleges before retiring in 2005.  He amassed 662 victories in his coaching career.

Frank Carbajal, seated in wheelchair, is surrounded by some of his former players and assistant coaches at the Santa Barbara Court of Champions ceremony in 2015.

Frank Carbajal, seated in wheelchair, is surrounded by some of his former players and assistant coaches at the Santa Barbara Court of Champions ceremony in 2015. (Photo courtesy of SBCC Athletics)

He is enshrined in several Halls of Fame: California Community College Coaches Association, Colorado Sports, Northern Colorado Athletic, Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table and the Santa Barbara Basketball Court of Champions.

Born in 1938, Carbajal was the youngest of 11 children.  He grew up in Greeley, Colo., and was a standout in basketball and baseball. He helped Greeley High to a state basketball championship in 1956 and the state baseball final that year.

In baseball, he was a 5-foot-9, hard-throwing, left-handed pitcher. After high school, he played baseball at Trinidad State Junior College before moving on to Colorado State College (now University of Northern Colorado).

Carbajal was known for his quips. In talking about his junior college baseball days during his induction into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, he recalled facing slugger Frank Howard, who went on to fame in the Major Leagues with the then Washington Senators.

“There was a game in the Basin League when I was facing Frank Howard. He was a monster, but I got two strikes on him. (Coach) Harry (Wise) signaled to brush him back, but I thought I’d put it on the outside corner of the plate. It’s still going.”

At Colorado State College, he earned All-Rocky Mountain Conference and NCAA District 7 honors in basketball in 1960. He was team captain from 1958-61 and was one of the top free-throw shooters in the nation during his senior year with an 87 percent average.

Carbajal began his coaching career at Moab High in Utah. He then came west to California and coached at El Camino High in Sacramento. His team went 23-0 in 1967-68. He moved on to the college ranks and was hired by Ed Gregory at Fresno State to coach the junior varsity. Carbajal’s team won 183 games and lost just 37. After Gregory was fired, he coached under Boyd Grant before coming to Santa Barbara.

Carbajal was recognized for providing Hispanic youth opportunities to play collegiate basketball.

“Victory in sports and promoting a quality of life for people of Hispanic heritage in American society were fundamental to his career,” said the Denver Post in a story about his induction into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

His achievements in both areas are reflected in his book, “On the Outside Looking In.” The book was published in 2011.

Carbajal is survived by his children: daughters Randi and Misti and sons Deron and Kirby, and grandchildren Cooper, Lesli, Jackson and Dylan.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Barry Punzal, Sports Editor

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.