A familiar name in Wisconsin basketball, Kathi Bennett joined the Badger women's basketball program as an assistant coach on May 1, 2008. Bennett, who is the daughter of former University of Wisconsin men's coach Dick Bennett and the sister of former UW assistant coach Tony Bennett, the head men's coach at Virginia, has many coaching ties to the state and to the Big Ten.
Bennett has brought the best defense in the Big Ten Conference to Wisconsin. In the last two seasons, the Badgers have led ranked among the top-two teams in the league in scoring defense. UW led the Big Ten in scoring defense in 2009-10 and has also ranked among the top-40 teams in the nation.
Bennett battled against UW head coach Lisa Stone (who was then at UW-Eau Claire) as the head women's coach at UW-Oshkosh from 1989-96 where she amassed a 155-32 career record. Her teams made six NCAA appearances including two Division III Final Four appearances that resulted in the 1996 national championship (31-0 record) and runner-up championship (28-3 record) finish in 1995.
Bennett's seven-year ledger at UW-Oshkosh included a 94-17 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (WIAC) coaching record, five WIAC titles, 17 All-WIAC first team selections, and two NCAA Division III All-America selections. In 1996, Bennett was recognized as the Coach of the Year in the NCAA Division III by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).
She moved to NCAA Division I first taking the head job at the University of Evansville, and later at Indiana University where her team won the Big Ten Tournament title in 2002. Her record at Evansville was 51-61, but she was 42-18 in her last two years. She finished with a 72-74 record in five years at Indiana. Her 2002 Indiana team became the lowest seeded team (No. 5) to win the Big Ten Tournament, upending top-seeded Purdue and second-seeded and regular season champion Penn State en route to the Big Ten crown and an NCAA tournament bid.
During her tenure, the Hoosiers knocked off two top-10 teams, three top-15 teams and six top-25 teams. Bennett became the first coach in school history to defeat at least one nationally ranked opponent in each of her first three seasons. Her 17-year career coaching mark was 296-177 for a 62.8 winning percentage.
While at Indiana, Bennett also participated in two international coaching tours. She led the 2004 Big Ten Foreign Tour team to a perfect 4-0 record in Australia, and she served as assistant coach for the 2003 Pan American Games team that won a silver medal.
After leaving Indiana, Bennett worked as an orthopedic sales representative for Zimmer Thomson and as a national Nike sales representative for Impact Sports. Bennett graduated from Stevens Point Area High School and played collegiate ball at UW-Stevens Point and later UW-Green Bay where she earned an undergraduate degree in exercise science in 1986.
Kathi Bennett Year-By-Year
Year School Record Pct. Post-Season
1988-89 Teiyko Marycrest 18-10 .643
1989-90 UW-Oshkosh 17-7 .708 NCAA Division III Second Round
1990-91 UW-Oshkosh 21-5 .808 NCAA Division III Second Round
1991-92 UW-Oshkosh 18-6 .750 NCAA Division III First Round
1992-93 UW-Oshkosh 16-8 .667
1993-94 UW-Oshkosh 24-3 .889 NCAA Division III Quarterfinals
1994-95 UW-Oshkosh 28-3 .903 NCAA Divison III Second Place
1995-96 UW-Oshkosh 31-0 1.000 NCAA Division III National Champs
1996-97 Evansville 3-23 .115
1997-98 Evansville 6-20 .231
1998-99 Evansville 19-11 .633 NCAA Division I First Round
1999-00 Evansville 23-7 .767 WNIT First Round
2000-01 Indiana 20-11 .645
2001-02 Indiana 17-14 .548 NCAA Division I First Round
2002-03 Indiana 13-15 .464
2003-04 Indiana 12-17 .429
2004-05 Indiana 10-18 .357
Total 17 years 296-177 .628
1996 NCAA Division III Coach of the Year
1999 Missouri Valley Coach of the Year
2003 Pan-American Games assistant coach - silver medal winner
2004 Big Ten Conference Foreign Tour Head Coach