Dick Bender is in his third season as director of operations for the men's basketball program. Bender, who joined the program after a coaching stint at Tulane, was the top assistant coach at DePauw University when Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell was a player from 1987-91.
"Dick is tremendous, he's just unbelievably loyal," Brownell said. "He coached me in college and worked for Royce Waltman for the better part of 14 years in two stints at DePauw and Indiana State. Dick is unbelievably organized. He serves as my chief of staff in terms of running this program. He makes sure our players are taken care of in a lot of ways. He's got so much experience in dealing with people. He'll be a good confidant for me in a lot of different situations."
Bender was an important part of the Tiger staff that led Clemson to a 22-12 final record in 2010-11. Clemson was 9-7 in the ACC, the No. 4 seed for the conference tournament in Greensboro, NC. The Tigers advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a record fourth straight season and won their first-round game over UAB, 70-52, in Dayton, OH.
In year two, the Tigers finished 16-15 and 8-8 in conference play. It was the fifth straight ACC regular season with at least a .500 record for the Clemson program, an all-time record at the school. In addition, the Tigers knocked off three NCAA Tournament teams in Florida State, NC State and Virginia. The 20-point win over ACC Tournament champion Florida State would prove to the be the Seminoles' largest margin of defeat in 2011-12.
Bender brought nearly 25 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 18 at the Division I level, to the Tiger staff when he was hired in 2010. He began his collegiate coaching career at DePauw in 1987 under Waltman. He helped the Tigers to an outstanding four-year overall record of 80-30.
DePauw was ranked No. 1 in Division III ranks on two occasions during his tenure. In 1990, Bender helped the Tigers to a national runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament.
After his stint with DePauw, Bender served as an assistant coach under Ron Bradley at Radford from 1991-97. The Highlanders compiled the top conference record and non-conference record of all the teams in the Big South during Bender's six seasons with the program. He was part of the coaching staff that guided Radford to a 73-72 upset over LSU during the 1993-94 season.
Bender left Radford in 1997 and was reunited with Waltman as part of the staff at Indiana State. Bender coached with the Sycamores for 10 seasons from 1997-2007. He helped ISU to consecutive 20-win seasons and NCAA Tournament appearances in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.
In 1999-2000, the Sycamores compiled a 14-4 record in the Missouri Valley Conference and won the regular season title. Indiana State then won the MVC Tournament the following season. The Sycamores went on to upset No. 4 seed Oklahoma, 70-68, in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament.
Bender was also part of the ISU staff that defeated perennial power Indiana in back-to-back seasons. The Sycamores defeated the Hoosiers in Bloomington by a score of 63-60 on Dec. 11, 1999, Bob Knight's final season at Indiana. Then, the following season, ISU won 59-58 with a buzzer-beater at home over Mike Davis' squad.
The native of Grantsville, MD graduated from Western Maryland in 1986 and earned a master's degree from DePauw in 1989. He was a two-year letterman and team MVP at Western Maryland. He was third in the nation in 1985-86 in free throw accuracy for Division III players with a 91 percent clip.
Bender and his wife, Beth, have two sons: Dalton (21) and Dillon (19). Dalton is a senior at Tulane University and Dillon is a freshman at Anderson University and is a member of the Trojan basketball team.
*Courtesy Clemson Media Guide