March 29, 2003
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Washington State University Director of Athletics Jim Sterk named Dick Bennett, a legend in the state of Wisconsin, the Cougars head men's basketball coach, Saturday. Bennett becomes the 15th man to lead WSU, which will enter its 103rd season in 2003-04. He replaces Paul Graham who spent four seasons in the Palouse.
"Dick Bennett is an extremely great fit for Pullman, Washington State University and the Cougar men's basketball program," Sterk said. "He has a proven record of building programs and taking them to the next level. He is respected by his peers, and most importantly, he is an even better person than he is a coach."
In his March 26 on-line article, ESPN college basketball analyst Andy Katz stated, "In the coaching community, Dick Bennett will bring instant credibility."
"I was treated extremely well throughout the interview process. I took it step-by-step and in the end found myself eager to be at Washington State University."
-- Dick Bennett
A native of Clintonville, Wis., Bennett owns a collegiate career record of 453-258 (.637), including a 280-178 (.611) mark at the Division I level.
Bennett began coaching Wisconsin preps in 1965 and compiled a 168-60 combined mark at five schools over 11 seasons.
His first collegiate job came at Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the 1976-77 season. Bennett posted a record of 173-80 (.684) over a nine-year span and led the Pointers to three NAIA Tournaments, including a national runner-up finish in 1984.
Bennett moved to Wisconsin-Green Bay for the 1984-85 season. He led the Phoenix to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1991 and made return trips in both 1994 and 1995. Under Bennett, Wisconsin-Green Bay knocked off California 61-57 in the first round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament. Bennett was 187-109 (.632) at UWGB before leaving the Phoenix to take the helm at Wisconsin prior to the 1995-96 season.
He spent five-plus seasons with the Badgers and guided Wisconsin to a 93-69 (.574) record during that span. He is the only Wisconsin coach to the lead the Badgers to three NCAA Tournament appearances (1997, 1999, 2000). His 2000 squad reached the Final Four before losing to eventual NCAA champion Michigan State in the national semifinal. His 1998-99 and 1999-2000 teams each won a then school-record 22 games. His first season in Madison, the Badgers reached the NIT. Four times his teams led the Big Ten in scoring defense, and placed in the top five nationally three times.
"I am primarily back as a basketball coach because I missed the association with the players," Bennett said. "I was treated extremely well throughout the interview process. I took it step-by-step and in the end found myself eager to be at Washington State University."
A 1965 graduate of Ripon (Wis.) College with a bachelor's degree in physical education, Bennett earned his master's degree in education from Wisconsin-Stevens Point. While at Ripon, he played three years of varsity football, basketball and baseball and was a member of seven conference championship teams.
Bennett's family includes wife Anne and children Kathi, the head women's basketball coach at Indiana, Amy and Tony, an assistant men's basketball coach at Wisconsin.