WALTHAM, Mass. – Bentley University is naming the basketball court at the Dana Center in honor of 1,000-game winner and Women's Basketball Hall of Famer Barbara Stevens. The announcement was made, on the eve of the Falcons' record 34th NCAA tournament appearance, in an email to the Bentley community by University President Gloria Cordes Larson.
"For 32 seasons (and counting!), Coach Barbara Stevens has served as the head women's basketball coach at Bentley University. Over the course of that career, patrolling the sidelines at the Dana Center, she has arguably become one of the top five coaches in the history of all women's basketball – and certainly the best ever in NCAA Division II," praised Larson. "It's hard to imagine all that she and her program have achieved and the impact it continues to have here at Bentley.
"And that's why, ahead of the Bentley Women's Basketball Program's record 34th NCAA tournament[CT1] berth – the 30th with Barbara at the helm – I am excited to recognize Coach Stevens' accomplishments with an honor that will last forever. Now, and long into the future, the court on which our varsity women (and men) play basketball will be known as the Barbara Stevens Court," Larson proclaimed.
The announcement comes approximately seven weeks after Stevens became the fifth coach in NCAA women's basketball history to achieve 1,000 career victories. A college head coach for 41 seasons, Stevens has a career record of 1010-277, including 853-186 in 32 winters leading the Falcons.
When President Larson informed me of this honor, I was stunned and absolutely speechless," said Stevens. "I am tremendously humbled and have no words to adequately express what this means. I want to thank Bentley for allowing me to be their women's basketball coach for the past 32 years. This honor must be shared with all the Bentley players and assistant coaches who gave so much to this program.
"I also want to personally thank President Larson for this gift and for her tremendous support of our program during her presidency. I have been incredibly blessed and will always remain indebted to those who have supported Bentley Women's Basketball," continued Stevens.
"This is a tremendous honor for a tremendous person," said longtime Bentley Director of Athletics Bob DeFelice. "I cannot begin to explain what Barbara Stevens means to Bentley University and to the athletic department!"
Bentley, under Stevens' leadership, has cut down a net 35 times, most recently on Sunday when her Falcons rallied past Stonehill College in overtime to claim a 20th Northeast-10 championship. There have been 14 NCAA Division II regional championships and the 2014 NCAA Division II national championship.
There have been 20 NE10 regular season championships, a dozen 30-win seasons, 15 Northeast-10 Coach of the Year awards and an unprecedented five WBCA Division II National Coach of the Year awards.
"Not only has Coach Stevens achieved unprecedented and unimaginable success on the court, she has been a leader and role model for coaches across this country. But even more so, she has been a mentor and a friend to 128 women who have had the honor to don the Bentley uniform over the past 32 years," said Larson.
"One can be honored for longevity or success—or as in Barbara's case, BOTH. Her success is unimaginable for those who follow basketball. Really good coaches spend their careers trying to get to an Elite Eight once – Coach Stevens has taken her teams to 14 Elite Eights. And as the 2018 tournament begins tomorrow, I know we all have our fingers crossed for number 15. It is both fitting, and long overdue, that we recognize her spectacular achievements by naming the basketball court in her honor Her name will always be the benchmark for all coaches at this institution.
"As I said after Coach Stevens achieved her 1,000th win earlier this year, Barbara is an even better person than basketball coach – and that's pretty special. Once again, I know the entire Bentley community joins me in celebrating Coach Stevens and this honor," concluded Larson.
Bentley, 27-3, will face Jefferson University tomorrow at 2:30 pm at Stonehill College in the first round of the 2018 NCAA East Regional.
Bentley student-athletes have a record of success both outside and inside the classroom. Recently, the NCAA recognized Bentley's student-athletes as having the highest graduation rate in the country, at 98 percent along with two other institutions. Bentley also received a "Presidents' Award for Academic Excellence" from the NCAA for having a four-year Academic Success Rate of 90 or better.
Athletics is an important part of the student experience at Bentley, which recently opened the doors to a new, state-of-the-art multipurpose arena that will host the university's NCAA Division I hockey team and prominent university events such as career fairs, high-profile speakers, alumni events and concerts.