Sept. 23, 2005
PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State Associate Head Men's Basketball Coach Tony Bennett will be the successor to his father Dick as the next Cougar head coach, WSU Director of Athletics Jim Sterk confirmed Friday. The move will take effect upon the elder Bennett's retirement. No date has been set at this time.
"I am excited about the future," Sterk said. "Last year I let Tony and Dick know what my intentions were and this summer I put it into writing so there was no question about the direction of the program. Tony and I have both strategized on keeping Dick as long as he wants to coach and we're together in that."
Under Dick Bennett, the Cougars have won 25 games in two seasons, including 14 Pacific-10 victories. WSU won 25 games overall and just eight Pac-10 games in the three seasons immediately preceding Bennett's arrival on the Palouse in 2003. In addition, the Cougars have led the Pac-10 in scoring defense and ranked in the top 15 nationally both years with the elder Bennett at the helm.
The head coaching position at Washington State will be the first in Tony Bennett's career. Currently in his third year overall at WSU, he spent three seasons at Wisconsin prior to coming to Pullman.
He helped guide the Badgers to the 2003 Sweet Sixteen. In addition, he made a name for himself as one of the nation's top recruiters while at Wisconsin. He was part of the staff which signed Devin Harris, the 2004 Big 10 Player of the Year and fifth pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, as well as Kirk Penney, a two-time All-Big 10 selection and 2004 Olympian for New Zealand.
At WSU, the younger Bennett was instrumental in signing Derrick Low, a three-time "Mr. Basketball" in the State of Hawaii. Low was named All-Pacific-10 Freshman Honorable Mention last season.
"The administration and Jim have been great about bringing my father and me here to turn this program around," Tony Bennett said. "We've talked about this in the past. It's a natural progression when the time comes. If you look and see across the country, they have the same kind of release at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Purdue.
"This is part of a long process," Tony Bennett continued. "We're realistic about what we have to do to make this more and more competitive, but it helps us to know there is going to be continuity. Jim and (WSU) President Rawlins have provided that. Pullman is a great place. If we can do what we want to do, bring legitimate respectability and high level of basketball to this university, this would be one of the greatest situations I can think of because people truly appreciate it more here than most places I've been and observed."
Dick Bennett added, "It was good that Jim put this (Tony be Dick's successor) in writing. It puts Tony's mind at ease and certainly mine as well. He has NBA experience and the experience of working under three head coaches in Brad Soderberg, Bo Ryan and myself. So, I think he is quite ready."
Washington State opens its 2005-06 season hosting UC Riverside, Nov. 19 at 5 p.m.