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March 13, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA.; MARCH 13, 2012 - Former Penn State men's basketball head coach Dick Harter, 81, passed away from cancer March 12th at his home in Hilton Head, S.C., according to the Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore.
Born Oct. 14, 1930 in Pottstown, Pa., the former U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant compiled a 57-year career in coaching that spanned both the collegiate and professional games. Harter compiled a 295-196 record in 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach that saw stints at Rider, Penn, Oregon and Penn State. He led the Nittany Lion program from 1978-79 through 1982-83.
Harter sparked a rebirth of basketball at Penn State when he was appointed head coach in 1978. He led the Nittany Lions to a 79-61 record in five seasons, guiding Penn State to the school's first post-season appearance in 14 years in the 1980 NIT. 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 Lion standouts as long-time NBA player Frank Brickowski, 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 went on to a long 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. He was also 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. Highly regarded as a defensive coach, Harter was an assistant to head coach Larry Bird on the Indiana Pacers team that lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals.
A reserve guard at Penn before graduating in 1953, Harter was inducted into three sports halls of fame: the Big Five Hall of Fame in Philadelphia, the University of Oregon Hall of Fame and the State of Pennsylvania (Pottstown Chapter) Hall of Fame.
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