Dec. 2, 2010
BERKELEY - To honor the legacy of Hall of Fame basketball coach Pete Newell and the contributions he made to University of California basketball, Cal Athletics will designate one men's home game each year as the Pete Newell Classic, beginning with the Golden Bears' matchup with No. 4 Kansas on Dec. 22.
In addition, the Pete Newell Career Achievement Award will be presented to a deserving former men's basketball player at a ceremony during the Classic game.
Newell served as Cal's basketball coach from 1954-60, guiding the Bears to the 1959 NCAA Championship and a national runner-up finish in 1960, the same season he was voted the national coach of the year. Cal also reached the NCAA regional final in 1957 and '58 under Newell. Overall, he led the Bears to four consecutive conference titles (1957-60) while compiling a 119-44 record.
Newell also coached the 1960 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal at the Rome Olympics. He later served as Cal's Director of Athletics from 1960-68.
Newell was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame a year later. The entire 1960 Olympic team, which included former Golden Bear Darrall Imhoff in addition to Newell as head coach, was enshrined into the Naismith Hall of Fame earlier this year. Newell also earned entry into the FIBA International Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
A longtime teacher of basketball in Japan where he helped popularize the sport starting in the 1960s, Newell received one of the country's highest honors when Emperor Hirohito awarded him the Order of the Sacred Treasures in 1987.
Also in 1987, the playing surface at Harmon Gym was renamed "Pete Newell Court" in his honor on Dec. 21, and the floor at Haas Pavilion retains that name. A statue of Newell, created by renowned sculptor Eino, was installed in the Haas Pavilion Club Room in the fall of 2006.
In addition to his tenure with the Bears, Newell also coached at the University of San Francisco from 1946-50, guiding the Dons to the 1949 National Invitation Tournament crown, and Michigan State from 1950-54. Combining his NIT title from USF, NCAA championship from Cal and 1960 Olympic gold medal, he is one of only three men in history to attain this "Triple Crown" of coaching.
Newell, who was born on Aug. 31, 1915, passed away after a long illness on Nov. 17, 2008.
The Pete Newell Career Achievement Award will be given to a Cal men's basketball alumnus who has distinguished himself in his career accomplishments, upholding the highest ideals of Coach Newell and the University of California. The 2010 recipient will be announced prior to the Pete Newell Classic.
Cal was previously a regular participant in the Pete Newell Challenge, a college basketball doubleheader played in the Bay Area from 1997-2006. Among the Bears' more notable wins in the Challenge were a 78-71 victory over ninth-ranked North Carolina in 1998, a 72-64 victory over No. 22 Gonzaga in 1999 and an 85-64 decision over Georgia in 2000. Cal played then-No. 19 Kansas in the 2002 Pete Newell Challenge, falling 80-67. Following the end of the Challenge, Newell gave Cal Athletics the exclusive right to use his name for future events.
Kansas is making its first appearance in Berkeley since Dec. 18, 1956, when the then-top-ranked Jayhawks featuring center Wilt Chamberlain upended Newell's Bears, 66-56, in Harmon Gym. Overall, KU holds a 15-3 series lead over Cal.
Tickets for the Dec. 22 Cal-Kansas game are on sale through the tickets link at CalBears.com or by calling the Cal Athletic Ticket Office at (800) GO BEARS. The contest tips off at 8 p.m. from Haas Pavilion.