The Greek word "arête" has many meanings, but the one that most fits Frank Bennett, the dean of the Atlantic Sun Conference, is "to be the best you can be."
Heading into his 32nd year as head coach of the Lipscomb Lady Bisons basketball team, Bennett has followed that philosophy. He preaches the importance of winning, but the mission of his program is to allow players and coaches room to grow spiritually, socially and academically.
Bennett's three-decade plus tenure is one of the longest in the history of the NCAA at one school. With an overall record of 577-415, and a .582 winning percentage Bennett ranks 29th in wins among all active NCAA Division I coaches.
During his tenure the Lady Bisons have been an NAIA national power, dealt with the transition period from the NAIA to NCAA Division I and appeared in the NCAA Tournament in the program's first year of eligibility, a history making feat.
Following the program’s transition from NAIA to NCAA Division I, Bennett guided the Lady Bisons to the 2004 Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship in Dothan, Ala., and the NCAA Midwest Regional in 2004, marking the first time a Division I team has accomplished that feat in its first year of eligibility.
Reaching the NCAA’s for the first time came right on the heels of Bennett claiming his 500th career win in a thrilling 66-65 victory Feb. 20, 2003 at Texas-Pan American. He has earned several additional distinctions during his career including:
- 2003 Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year
- 2002 Division I Independent Coach of the Year
- 2002 selection to the NAIA Hall of Fame
- 1999 WBCA NAIA National Coach of the Year
- One of six finalists for the 1997 WBCA NAIA Coach of the Year
- 1997 TranSouth Conference Coach of the Year
- 1996 WBCA NAIA National Coach of the Year
- 1994 Tennessee Sportswriters Association College Coach of the Year
- 1986 and 1994 TCAC Coach of the Year
Bennett produced All-America players the last 12 years in the NAIA and 13 out of the last 14 years the Lady Bisons were part of the NAIA.
Since he is equally concerned with classroom performance, nine Lady Bisons have been named All-America Scholar Athletes throughout Bennett's coaching career. Each Lady Bison who has completed her senior year of eligibility has graduated.
In 2010, the Lady Bisons ranked ninth in NCAA Division I on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association 2009-2010 Top 25 Team Honor Roll. The Lady Bisons were the only A-Sun team to make the Honor Roll. Lipscomb compiled a 3.452 average. They were close behind DePaul in eighth place with a 3.455 average.
Before taking on the Lady Bisons program, Bennett served as head coach of the David Lipscomb High School girls' team. While at DLHS, Bennett compiled an impressive 109-23 record, including two straight state tournament appearances. In 1979, he was selected as Nashville Interscholastic League “Coach of the Year” after the team finished as TSSAA Class-A runner-up.
Bennett attended Lipscomb from kindergarten through college. He is a 1969 graduate of DLHS and a 1973 graduate of Lipscomb University. He earned two master's degrees from Middle Tennessee State University (1979) and the University of Evansville (1983).
He taught mathematics for three years and computer science for 17 years at Lipscomb University. When the school made the move to the NCAA Division I in 1999, Bennett stepped down from his teaching duties.
While in college at Lipscomb, Bennett lettered four years on the men's tennis team and was the assistant basketball coach for DLHS.
An admirer of the late UCLA coach John Wooden, Coach Bennett is the author of a children's book, The Illustrated Rules of Basketball. When he's not coaching, teaching or spending time with his family, Bennett enjoys weightlifting.
Bennett and his wife, Jan, have three children: Franklin (married to the former Reid Harrell), Lee (married to the former Aileen Wark) , and Laura, who works at Lipscomb’s Institute for Sustainable Practice. The couple also has one granddaughter, Lane, who belongs to Franklin and Reid.