Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers won the NCAA Division I men’s basketball national championship in 2019, giving the Bennett family an important bullet point on its resume. Bennett’s father, Dick Bennett, won more than 300 games in 19 seasons as a DI coach and he helped his son form his defensive identity as a coach who taught the pack-line defense.
Tony and Dick Bennett form one of the best father-son NCAA men’s basketball coaching duos of all-time.
Here are some more of the best father-son college coaching combinations ever. If we missed one you think deserves recognition, let us know by emailing us here.
Dick and Tony Bennett
Coach: Dick Bennett | Tony Bennett
School(s): Green Bay, Wisconsin, Washington State | Washington State, Virginia
Years active: 1985-2006 | 2006-Present
Career record: 316-227 | 346-129
Career winning percentage: .582 | .728
NCAA tournament record: 5-7 | 16-8
Since the 1985-86 season, the second year of the 64-team NCAA tournament, Dick or Tony Bennett has coached at the Division I level. The elder Bennett went 5-23 in his first season at Green Bay in 1986 before leading the Phoenix to the NCAA tournament in year six of his tenure. He led Green Bay to two more NCAA tournament appearances, plus two regular-season championships and three conference tournament titles, before moving on to Wisconsin. That’s where he helped the Badgers reach the Final Four in 2000.
The Bennett family’s next Final Four appearance was in 2019, when Tony Bennett removed himself from the “best coach to not make the Final Four” conversation and allowed Virginia to hang its first national championship banner. Two seasons after Dick Bennett helped Wisconsin reach the national semifinals, he moved on to Washington State, where he coached for three seasons before his son Tony took the reins as head coach.
Like his father, Tony Bennett coached Washington State for three seasons, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2008, before he accepted an offer from Virginia. Bennett has elevated the Cavaliers to among the national elite as they’ve earned a No. 1 seed in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019, plus four finishes atop the ACC regular season standings and two conference tournament titles.
Combined, Tony and Dick Bennett have a 662-356 record with six regular season conference championships, five conference tournament championships, 16 NCAA tournament appearances, 21 NCAA tournament wins, two Final Four appearances and one national championship.
John Thompson Jr. and John Thompson III
Coach: John Thompson Jr. | John Thompson III
School(s): Georgetown | Princeton, Georgetown
Years active: 1972-99 | 2000-17
Career record: 596-239 | 346-193
Career winning percentage: .714 | .642
NCAA tournament record: 34-19 | 9-10
John Thompson Jr. and his son John Thompson III are in an elite father-son coaching club as both coaches made the Final Four. John Thompson Jr. led the Hoyas to the national championship game three times in a four-year span with current Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing as the team’s centerpiece, highlighted by the school’s 1984 national championship. Twenty-two years after John Thompson Jr.’s last Final Four appearance in 1985, John Thompson III helped Georgetown return to the Final Four in 2007.
That was in Year Three of Thompson III’s tenure at Georgetown and one season after he took the Hoyas to the Sweet 16 as a No. 7 seed. The Thompson father-son duo combined for 942 wins in their coaching careers, which included a total of 40 years at the helm of Georgetown.
Homer and Scott/Bryce Drew
Coach: Homer Drew | Scott Drew | Bryce Drew
School(s): Valparaiso | Valparaiso/Baylor | Valparaiso/Vanderbilt
Years active: 1988-2002; 2003-11 | 2002-Present | 2011-19
Career record: 370-306 | 364-224 | 164-108
Career winning percentage: .547 | .619 | .603
NCAA tournament record: 2-7 | 11-8 | 0-3
The Drew family, with father Homer and sons Scott and Bryce, each got their Division I head coaching start at Valparaiso. The three coaches spent a combined 28 years in charge, including all 22 seasons of Homer Drew’s career. Homer Drew had an especially impressive run from the 1994-95 season through 2003-04, when the Crusaders made five NCAA tournament appearances in a row and seven in nine years, after having never appeared in the tournament prior to Homer Drew’s tenure.
Valpo won eight regular-season titles and eight conference tournament titles in a 10-year span.
The Crusaders’ biggest NCAA tournament moment came in 1998. Homer Drew coached his son Bryce, who hit a famous buzzer-beater to beat No. 4 seed Ole Miss in the first round of the tournament, sparking a Sweet 16 run for the No. 13-seeded Crusaders. Five seasons after that, Bryce’s older brother Scott spent the year coaching Valparaiso before taking the Baylor job, where he endured eight, nine and four-win seasons before leading the Bears to eight NCAA tournament appearances in a 12-year stretch. Baylor earned a No. 3 seed four times and the Bears have made both the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 twice in his tenure. Baylor reached No. 1 in the AP poll in the 2019-20 season.
Bryce Drew, the 1998 NCAA tournament hero for the Crusaders, led the program to four regular-season titles and two NCAA tournament appearances in five years as the school’s head coach.
In total, the father and two sons have combined for 898 career wins, 18 NCAA tournament appearances and 13 NCAA tournament wins.
Rick and Richard Pitino
Coach: Rick Pitino | Richard Pitino
School(s): Hawaii, Boston University, Providence, Kentucky, Louisville, Iona | Florida International, Minnesota
Years active: 1975-76; 1978-1983; 1985-87; 1989-97; 2001-17; Present | 2012-Present
Career record: 770-271* | 145-122
Career winning percentage: .740* | .543
NCAA tournament record: 54-19* | 1-2
*Louisville had 123 wins from these totals vacated from 2011-15
Rick Pitino won the 1996 NCAA tournament with Kentucky and he has led three different schools to the Final Four during his coaching career that now enters its sixth decade. His career has taken him literally from coast to coast. His first DI head coaching job was at Hawaii before he led Boston University and Providence, and later establishing himself at Kentucky and Louisville with stints with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, respectively, in between college coaching jobs.
His son, Richard, currently coaches Minnesota, which he led to the NCAA tournament twice in the last four seasons. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2017 and his Gophers beat No. 7 seed Louisville in the first round of the 2019 NCAA tournament for his first career NCAA tournament win.
Eddie and Scott Sutton
Coach: Eddie Sutton | Scott Sutton
School(s): Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, San Francisco | Oral Roberts
Years active: 1969-89; 1990-2006; 2007-08 | 1999-2017
Career record: 806-329* | 328-247
Career winning percentage: .710* | .570
NCAA tournament record: 39-26* | 0-3
*Kentucky later had two wins and a loss vacated
The late Eddie Sutton, who coached five programs in his head coaching career, is ninth all-time in career wins. Five hundred and nineteen of those came at Oklahoma State, where he took the Cowboys to the Final Four in 1995 and 2004. Oklahoma State made the NCAA tournament in Sutton’s first five seasons and later eight years in a row from 1998 to 2005. He also took Arkansas to the Final Four in 1978, plus an Elite Eight and two Sweet 16 appearances.
Eddie Sutton’s son, Scott, spent all 18 years of his head coaching career at Oral Roberts, where he had a nice four-year run from 2005 to 2008. The Golden Eagles won the regular-season title each season and went to the NCAA tournament three years in a row.
Gene and Murray Bartow
Coach: Gene Bartow | Murray Bartow
School(s): Memphis, Illinois, UCLA, UAB | UAB, East Tennessee State, South Florida, UCLA
Years active: 1970-77; 1979-96 | 1996-2002; 2003-15; 2016-17; 2018-19
Career record: 491-253 | 338-274
Career winning percentage: .660 | .552
NCAA tournament record: 14-12 | 0-4
Gene and Murray Bartow, father and son, both coached both UCLA and UAB, plus two other programs each. Impressively, Gene Bartow led Memphis to the Final Four in just his third season as a DI head coach in 1973. After four seasons at Memphis, Bartow spent one year at Illinois, then two at UCLA, where he led the Bruins to back-to-back top-five finishes in the AP poll, including a Final Four run in 1976 and No. 2 finish in the AP poll in 1977. Bartow spent the last 17 year of his career at UAB, where he saw the Blazers move from the Sun Belt to the Great Midwest Conference to Conference USA.
UAB made the NCAA tournament seven times under Bartow, all in consecutive seasons. In the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, the No. 7-seeded Blazers made the Sweet 16 in 1981, then the Elite Eight as a No. 4 seed the following year.
Gene Bartow’s son, Murray, got his head coaching start at UAB in the 1996-97 season after taking over for his father. Murray Bartow took UAB back to the tournament in year three and after six seasons at the school, he moved on to East Tennessee State, which he took to the NCAA tournament three times. He later was head coach at South Florida and UCLA.
Ray and Joey Meyer
Coach: Ray Meyer | Joey Meyer
School(s): DePaul | DePaul
Years active: 1942-84 | 1984-97
Career record: 724-354 | 231-158*
Career winning percentage: .672 | .594*
NCAA tournament record: 14-16 | 6-7*
*DePaul later had six wins and four losses vacated
For 55 years, DePaul’s men’s basketball team was coached by either Ray or Joey Meyer, who combined to lead the Blue Demons to 14 NCAA tournament appearances in a 17-year span, including a Final Four appearance in 1979 and four trips to the tournament as a No. 1 seed. In three of those seasons in which DePaul earned a No. 1 seed, the team finished with just two losses on the season.
Ralph and Kevin Willard
Coach: Ralph Willard | Kevin Willard
School(s): Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Holy Cross | Iona, Seton Hall
Years active: 1990-2009 | 2007-20
Career record: 336-241 | 236-186
Career winning percentage: .582 | .559
NCAA tournament record: 2-6 | 1-4
Ralph and Kevin Willard have spent much of their coaching careers in the Northeast. Ralph Willard spent 10 of his 19 seasons at Holy Cross, where he’s responsible for four of the school’s eight NCAA tournament appearances since the 1950s. In his first-ever NCAA tournament as a head coach, which was in Year Three at Western Kentucky, he led the Hilltoppers to the Sweet 16 as a No. 7 seed.
His son, Kevin, has elevated Seton Hall, which made the NCAA tournament four years in a row from 2016 through 2019, and the Pirates won the 2016 Big East tournament and 2020 regular-season championship.