ST. BONAVENTURE – The St. Bonaventure basketball program has a proud history – one that has united the community and the university for generations. As another new season approaches, it brings with it a special milestone – 100 seasons of intercollegiate men’s basketball.
The Bonnies will celebrate their centennial season in 2019-20, honoring the tradition of Bonaventure basketball. Throughout the year, special celebrations are planned to honor past players and coaches.
“St. Bonaventure has had a long and storied history in men’s basketball,” Bona athletics director Tim Kenney said. “From the first official season under Coach Richard Phelan in Butler Gym to the great teams of Mike Reilly, Eddie Donovan, Eddie Melvin, Jim Satalin, Larry Weise, Jim Baron and Mark Schmidt, St. Bonaventure basketball has always been a mainstay in the collegiate game. To be able to celebrate our history during this 100th season is something we are all excited about.”
“Even though I didn’t end up here, since Bonaventure was the place I always wanted to go to college, I was a big fan of the Bonnies growing up and have great memories of that ‘77 NIT title team,” said Dr. Dennis DePerro, university president, a 1977 graduate of Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo. “It’s going to be a special year being able to reflect on such a remarkable tradition and to reconnect with so many people who were important to the program’s success.”
IN ANTICIPATION for the anniversary, special commemorative logos have been created for use throughout the year. The logos were created by St. Bonaventure alumnus and Olean native Derek Howard in conjunction with the athletics department.
The 100th Anniversary Season logo celebrates not only the history of the basketball program, but its deep bond with the University community. Included in the logo are the iconic university bell tower outside Doyle Chapel as well as a St. Bonaventure font reminiscent of that used on some of the program’s most well-known uniforms during the 1970s. It includes a nod to the first team with an “Est. 1919” at the bottom.
Evidence of basketball at the University dates back to the turn of the 20th century, with intramural contests going back at least to 1902 as ties to the game continued to strengthen in the Bonaventure community. After those early years, the first intercollegiate program was firmly established for the 1919-20 season with the initial game held in Butler Gymnasium on Dec. 11, 1919. Under coach Richard Phelan, the new squad beat an alumni team, 29-18. The season continued with 16 games vs. Seton Hall, Cathedral College, Grove City College, Westminster, St. Francis of Loretto, Canisius and Duquesne.
A special celebration will be held in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the first game with more details to follow. Later this month, the Bonnies social media channels @GoBonnies and @BonniesMBB will begin a special “100 Days To Tipoff” with a special memory from the program’s history featured each day.