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Penn State Basketball: Former Nittany Lions Head Coach Dick Harter Dies at Age 81

by on March 13, 2012 9:54 PM

Former Penn State men’s basketball coach Dick Harter, who led the Nittany Lions to a 79-61 record and one NIT appearance in five seasons, died Monday of cancer at the age of 81 at his home in Hilton Head, S.C.

Harter pumped new life into basketball at Penn State after being appointed head coach in 1978, replacing John Bach. Harter helped lead the Lions into their first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference, posting a 9-5 conference mark in 1982-83. 

He coached such Nittany L'ion standouts as long-time NBA player Frank Brickowski, the second all-time leading rebounder and 1,000-point scorer Mike Lang, top five all-time assist man Tom Wilkinson and 1,000-point scorers Dwight Gibson, Mike Edelman and Steve Kuhn. Harter, a native of Pottstown, Pa., was a former U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant compiled a 57-year career in coaching that spanned both the collegiate and professional games

Harter, who graduated from Penn in 1953 as serving as a backup guard on the Quakers’ basketball team, compiled a 295-196 record in 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach that also included stops at Rider, Penn and Oregon.

Harter also had a lengthy career in the NBA as an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.

And he was the first head coach of the NBA expansion Charlotte Hornets in 1988, where he posted a 47-157 record in two and a half seasons.

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