Friday, March 28, 2003

College Notebook

Bennett returns to coaching

Enquirer news services

MINNEAPOLIS - Dick Bennett's retirement is over, less than three years after he abruptly walked away from the University of Wisconsin program. Bennett, who will turn 60 next month, will be named men's basketball coach at Washington State on Saturday, according to sources and published reports.

"In the coaching community, Dick Bennett will bring instant credibility," said ESPN college basketball analyst Andy Katz, who on Wednesday first reported Bennett's hiring. The Wisconsin State Journal reported Bennett's hiring in its Thursday morning editions.

The Cougars, who finished 7-20 this season under Paul Graham, are in desperate need of a builder, a man with a vision and a history of lifting downtrodden programs.

Bennett worked his magic at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, UW-Green Bay and finally at Wisconsin before abruptly stepping aside three games into the 2000-'01 season. His record in 24-plus seasons as a college coach is 453-258.

NO GRADUATES, NO PLAY: This year's four top-seeded NCAA Tournament teams - Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and Kentucky - had a graduation rate of zero in the latest report, as did Pittsburgh.

But this year the NCAA is doing more than wringing its hands. As part of its aggressive campaign to improve academic achievement of athletes, the NCAA is forging ahead with a plan that would penalize those schools and teams with poor graduation rates. As early as 2006, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky and Pittsburgh could find themselves ineligible to play in the tournament if their graduation rates don't improve.

The report counts athletes who entered school in 1995-96.

NIT: Temple took Minnesota to overtime before losing 63-58 in the quarterfinals. Minnesota (16-12) will now travel to New York to take on Georgetown in the semifinals. Rick Rickert led the Golden Gophers with 15 points. Brian Polk led Temple (15-15) with 19 points.

St. John's outlasted Alabama-Birmingham to advance to the semifinals in New York with a 79-71 win. Morris Finley led all scorers with 25 points for the Blazers (21-12). St. John's will play Texas Tech in the semifinals.

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College Notebook: Bennett returns to coaching
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