Tom Penders ’67 (BUS), who played on some of the finest UConn basketball teams of the 1960s and also starred for the UConn baseball team (pictured, left, with brother and teammate Jim Penders ’66 (ED), father of current UConn baseball head coach Jim Penders ’94 (CLAS), ’98 MA) before going on to a long and successful college coaching career, has been named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in the class of 2021 as a coach. The Stratford native began his head coaching career at Tufts in 1971: Penders coached seven different programs over a span of 39 years — Tufts, Columbia, Fordham, Rhode Island, Texas, George Washington, and Houston. His overall record was 649-437, with a 12-11 mark in the NCAA Tournament. In 1987 while coaching Rhode Island, he was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year. Penders’ NCAA teams lost only once to a lower seed, and that was a No. 8 vs. No. 9 game in 1992. His 1988 Rhode Island team was the first A-10 team to reach the Sweet 16. He guided Texas to an Elite 8 appearance in 1990, the school’s first since 1947.
Photo courtesy of Jim Penders ’94 (CLAS), ’98 MA
Thanks for the article on Tom Penders. I remember him very well. I saw him for the 1st time when Stratford played our high school in Milford, Connecticut. He was outstanding even then. Later on, I remember him as part of the great UConn basketball teams that included Wes Bialasuknia and Toby Kimball. I knew Toby while at UConn and, surprisingly, we both ended up living in the small town of La Jolla, California, where we occasionly socialised with our wives. Small world. Congratulations to Tom and all the best to him.
Here is some more background on Tom Penders. He started coaching at Bullard-Havens Tech in Bridgeport and moved on to Bridgeport Central High School succeeding the legendary Eddie Reilly. He played for the Waterbury Indians of the Eastern League in 1968 and then played softball for the famed Raybestos Cardinals.