Bennett ’65 to Be Honored at Final Four

RC_dbennettWisconsin Coaching Legend and Ripon College Alumnus Dick Bennett ’65 will be honored with the Coach Wooden “Keys to Life” Award at the 17th Annual Legends of the Hardwood Breakfast held in conjunction with the NCAA Final Four Tournament in Atlanta on Saturday, April 6. The event is hosted by Athletes in Action and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The presenting organizations called Bennett a “game changer” for the impact he has made both on and off the court: “Through his dedication to the sport not only as a coach, but also to the character of the people around him, Bennett exemplifies the same drive and desire as Coach John Wooden. His impeccable character and teaching ability make Bennett a standout to players and teams.”

Part of the award includes a $10,000 special gift, from one of the event’s presenting sponsors (Chick Fil A), to be presented the college or university of the recipient’s choice. Bennett has decided to present his award to Ripon College.

“Dick Bennett is our ‘Mr. Basketball’ in the state of Wisconsin,” said Ripon College President Zach Messitte. “He is a model for our entire community – we are so proud of his accomplishments in the game of basketball and in communities across the nation and are truly grateful that he has chosen to celebrate his success with his alma mater.”

A star-athlete, turned star-coach, Dick Bennett was an All-Midwest Conference First Team selection in football and baseball and helped Ripon College win three straight titles in basketball and two each in football and baseball during the years of 1962-65. He was elected both captain and most valuable player of the 1964-65 football team, having won the conference individual scoring record.

Upon establishing himself as a coach, Dick was named Wisconsin high school “Coach of the Year” when his 1975-76 Eau Claire Memorial High School team won the state basketball championship. In 1984, he was named NAIA “Coach of the Year” after a victorious season for his UW-Stevens Point basketball team. He went on to lead a team from a 4-24 season to a winning season two years later, to numerous NCAA tournament appearances, and guided the Wisconsin Badgers to the 2000 Final Four – a first for the school in more than 50 years. After retiring the first time in 2000, Bennett returned to college basketball in 2003 to rebuild another team and inspire another group of young men.

He has amassed an impressive overall coaching record of 489-307.

TNT’s Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson and CBS College Basketball Lead Analyst Clark Kellogg will serve as the emcees for the 17th Annual Legends of the Hardwood Breakfast. Other special guests include: TNT’s Inside the NBA analysts Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of USA Basketball. Ripon College Athletic Director Julie Johnson and Ryan Kane, head coach of men’s basketball, will be in attendance at the Legends Breakfast.

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