Editor's note: Links to more information about Ken Anderson's career appear below the news release.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - The Zorn Arena basketball court at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will be named in honor of former Blugold men's basketball head coach Ken Anderson, Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich announced today during a news conference on the Zorn Arena court.
The announcement followed Levin-Stankevich's approval of a recent request from a group of men's basketball alumni to name the court. The Ken Anderson Court will be formally dedicated during Blugold Basketball Alumni Weekend in February 2012.
"The naming of the Ken Anderson Court pays tribute to a long and successful career and to Ken's influence on basketball in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and the country," Levin-Stankevich said.
The alumni have worked for more than two years to make the court naming a reality. Following a men's basketball alumni reunion in 2009, Todd Oehrlein and Tim Valentyn, former Blugold basketball players, shepherded the idea to honor Anderson through the university's procedure for naming facilities, and a core group of alumni and friends spearheaded a fundraising campaign. Private gifts of more than $90,000 have been pledged, and the goal is to exceed $100,000. The funds will be used to support improvements to Zorn Arena; complete the remodeling of the Gold Room, a multipurpose room in the facility; and serve other needs and projects for men's basketball.
Anderson, himself a 1955 UW-Eau Claire alumnus and former Blugold athlete, led the UW-Eau Claire men's basketball program from 1968-95. During that period, the Blugolds garnered 14 conference titles and competed in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament 15 times. He compiled a career win-loss record of 631-152, a winning percentage of .806. Anderson's 631 wins ranks first in conference history, while his winning percentage is third behind only former UW-Platteville coach Bo Ryan and current UW-Stevens Point coach Bob Semling (also a UW-Eau Claire alumnus). The next closest number of wins is 440.
Valentyn and Oehrlein enjoyed success under Anderson's leadership during different decades of the storied program. They participated in today's announcement via live video feed from Madison.
"The fact that we came together on this is really a reflection of the strong bond that exists among all the guys who played for Coach Anderson," said Valentyn, who was on the team in the late 1970s. "Even though we may not have played together, we all learned the same lessons, carry with us an intimate understanding of what it took to play for Coach and feel the strong sense of pride that comes from working together to win championships."
Valentyn graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1977 and is a 1989 Blugold Hall of Fame inductee. He is an attorney, sports agent and president of Murphy Desmond S.C. in Madison. Oehrlein had similar sentiments from participating on the team near the end of Anderson's tenure.
"We're extremely excited to see that the university has agreed to name the basketball court after Coach Anderson," said Oehrlein from his home in Sun Prairie. "It's a long-deserved honor for a man who had a significant influence on my life as well as the lives of so many others.
"The lessons I learned and the relationships I developed during that time largely shaped the remainder of my life. Other than my parents and my wife, I don't think any single person has had a greater impact on the course of my life."
Oehrlein graduated in 1991 and went on to serve as UW-Eau Claire men's golf coach for six seasons and assistant men's basketball coach for eight seasons. He is the current head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers women's golf team and was recently named Big Ten Conference Co-Coach of the Year. He is a 2009 inductee of UW-Eau Claire's Blugold Hall of Fame.
From his home in Peoria, Ariz., Anderson expressed his appreciation not only for the honor bestowed upon him by former players, but for the dedication of the campus and Eau Claire community to the basketball program during his coaching career.
"I'm very pleased not only for myself and family but for all the players and coaches who were involved from 1968 to 1995," Anderson said. "I'm also happy for the many season ticketholders, boosters and fans. The student body was like a sixth man. We won 90 percent of our home games during that 27-year period. The arena was an intimidating environment for our opponents due to the excellence of our players and the great enthusiasm of our fans.
"I'm thankful to the players who made this possible. Their attitude and drive have not changed over the years," Anderson said.
Levin-Stankevich also expressed his admiration for the dedication of Anderson's former players and appreciation for the impact their generosity will have for current Blugold basketball teams.
"This effort not only honors Ken Anderson and our former players' experiences as Blugolds but will benefit both men's and women's basketball at UW-Eau Claire," Levin-Stankevich said.
Coach Kyle Green, in his first season at the helm of Blugold men's basketball, said it's important for current teams to understand what it means to walk in the footsteps of the past so they can be inspired to create memories of their own.
"The current Blugold teams are fortunate to be the beneficiaries of such a generous gift," Green said. "The tradition of UW-Eau Claire basketball is second to none in the WIAC and it certainly illustrates the pride of the alumni who have stepped forward to support such an endeavor. The gift will help ensure that the history of success, the great memories of teams past and future, and the quality of the student athletes that have been a part of Blugold basketball will be enshrined forever within the walls of Zorn Arena."
Renovations to Zorn Arena's Gold Room will be completed by the Feb. 4 dedication of the Ken Anderson Court, and other arena changes will take place at the conclusion of the men's and women's basketball seasons.
Ken Anderson career highlights
Career stats, game by game