Basketball coaching legend Dick Harter '48 passed away Monday, March 12 at the age of 81.
Dick grew up on The Hill's campus as his father, Mr. Charles Harter, was an instructor of science at the School from 1917-58. Dick was a five-year boy and was heavily involved in athletics during his time as a student. He was a three-year member of the varsity basketball and baseball teams and a two-year member of the varsity football team, captaining the basketball team in both his fifth and sixth form seasons.
He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a reserve guard on the Quakers' basketball team. He began what would become a lengthy, accomplished basketball coaching career at both the collegiate and professional levels at Rider University before returning to Penn in 1966. Dick coached at Penn until 1971, guiding the team to a 88-44 record during his five seasons, including an incredible 44 consecutive regular season victories in 1969-70 and 1970-71. He accepted the head coach position at the University of Oregon, where he made a name for himself as a defensive specialist. His most famous win at Oregon came in 1976, when the Ducks traveled to UCLA and handed John Wooden's team their first home loss in 98 games. He finished his collegiate coaching career at Penn State University, where he was the head coach from 1978-83. Dick's overall record as a collegiate head coach was an impressive 295-196.
After finishing his college coaching career, Dick made the jump to the NBA as an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons. He became the first head coach in the history of the expansion Charlotte Hornets in 1988 and remained with the team for two seasons. He then spent the remainder of his career serving as an assistant coach for various teams, including the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Portland Trailblazers, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers.
He returned to The Hill's campus on November 10, 2000 as the featured speaker for the Fall Sesquicentennial Weekend's "Major H" Dinner that honored The Hill's proud athletics traditions. At the dinner, he spoke about the faculty members that helped shape his character and served as his role models, as well as the importance of sports in the development of youth: "They learn courage to get up and keep going despite adversity, and they gain self-confidence and self-esteem," he declared.
NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird recalled his time spent coaching with Dick upon learning of his death. "Bringing him in here to help me when I was coached was great, not only for me, but for the team and the franchise," Bird said. "He was very good at what he did and on the defensive end, you couldn't find anybody better."