What Big Ten women's coach has a father who also coached in the Big Ten?
Kathi Bennett, Indiana University
Kathi Bennett was named head coach of the University of Indiana's women's basketball team in March 2000. Her father, Dick Bennett, was head coach at the University of Wisconsin from 1995 until he retired earlier this week, leading the Badgers to the men's Final Four last season.
So, is this a strange coincidence or something marvelously planned? The father-daughter duo won't say, but their years in the basketball world have interestingly mirrored and mimicked each other's.
Dick is one of those "climb the ladder" coaches, starting off as a high school coach and moving his way up through several different programs, until he reached that pinnacle of the Final Four last spring. Kathi's route to Indiana is similar, but has happened much more quickly.
The first Bennett co-sighting happened at the University of Wisconsin-Stephens Point in the early 1980s. Dick was the head men's coach. Kathi joined the women's team as a freshman.
For her sophomore year, Kathi transferred to University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where she helped lead the team to a 48-16 record over the next two years. After her junior year, 1984-85, she suffered a knee injury and did not play her senior year.
And guess who arrived on campus in 1985? Dick took over the head men's job at Green Bay in 1985, leading the team to several Division I tournament berths. Kathi's brother, Tony, joined the family business in 1988, accepting a scholarship to Green Bay and becoming one of the school's most heralded players.
After graduation, Kathi joined the coaching world, finding success at several stops. She bagged her first head coaching job at Teikyo Marycrest University in Iowa in 1988. In 1989, she was named head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she lead the team to the NCAA Division III national championship in 1995-96. Kathi landed her first head Division I job in 1996 at the University of Evansville, where she turned a struggling program into a Missouri Valley Conference contender.
In 1999--with Kathi in her third year at Evansville and Dick finishing his fourth year at Wisconsin--the Bennetts became the first father-daughter duo to advance their teams to the NCAA Division I tournament in the same year. They both also were finalists for the honor of Division I Coach of the Year.
Kathi has gotten Indiana off to a great start so far this year, as the Hoosiers are undefeated, at 6-0, including wins over U. of Washington and South Carolina. Last year, under coach Jim Izard the team went 10-18, finishing tied for 8th in the conference. The team's biggest test comes on Dec 2, when it faces Louisiana Tech.
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