Longtime New York-area sportswriter Bernie Beglane, who founded the athletic administration program at St. John's University, died Wednesday at his home in Hampton Bays after a battle with cancer. He was 88.

Beglane was born in New York City on Jan. 12, 1927, and was a member of Fairfield University's second graduating class in 1952. He first became a sportswriter for the Long Island Star-Journal and then the Long Island Press until it closed in 1977. He was also a profilic freelancer for almost 60 years for The Associated Press and a myriad of newspapers and magazines.

He started the athletic administration program at St. John's in 1977, and his connections allowed many of his students to gain entry into the sports world.

Beglane covered all sports, including the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976. He covered the Nets during their American Basketball Association years on Long Island starting at Commack Arena, then at Island Garden and Nassau Coliseum.

He was renowned for covering multiple events in a day, earning the nickname "Bernie Byline." He often would teach at St. John's, then show up all over New York for the Mets or Yankees or Knicks or a college basketball game.

"His work ethic was second to none, and we saw that growing up," said his son Brian, senior manager of video production for the United States Tennis Association. "But he was a good family man and somehow was always around. Of course, as sons of a sportswriter, we became locker room rats and went with our dad to all sorts of sporting events.

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"He had a real fondness for basketball. He was the beat writer for the Nets during the Rick Barry and Dr. J [Julius Erving] championship years. But he also loved covering college basketball, even the small colleges."

Said Associated Press sportswriter Jim O'Connell: "If you could get all the people Bernie helped together, they would fill Madison Square Garden."

Brian Beglane said his father once was asked where he got his drive. His answer: "The bills."

Beglane could show a crusty personality straight out of a Damon Runyon story. "He had that grizzly bear side,'' his son said, "but he had the teddy bear side as well."

Beglane, whose wife of 49 years, Kitty, died in 2006, also is survived by sons Edward and Terry, daughter Bernadette and 10 grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be Monday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Rosalie's in Hampton Bays.