The University of Bridgeport is mourning mourns the death of longtime men’s basketball coach Bruce Webster, who died at the age of 80 last Wednesday.

Webster was the Purple Knights’ coach for 34 seasons, from the 1965-66 campaign through the 1998-99 season. During his tenure, his teams posted 549 wins, making him the school’s all-time leader in career victories.

Under his direction, the Purple Knights made 12 NCAA national tournament appearances (1968, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992), won five NCAA Regional Titles (1976, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1992) and reached the Division II national championship games in 1991 and 1992.

A 1959 graduate of Rutgers, where he played both basketball and football, Webster brought international attention to UB during the 1984-85 season when he recruited a 7-foot, 7-inch native of the Sudan, Manute Bol, to come to the Park City and play for the Purple Knights. During that season, the Purple Knights were a must-see and the talk of the entire college basketball community, as Bol, prior to his career in the NBA, helped Bridgeport post a 26-6 record and reach the Northeast Regional Finals.

In recognition of Webster’s contributions to the basketball program, the University named the playing court in Hubbell Gymnasium in his honor in February of 2005.

In 1976, 1979, and 1992, Webster was named the Northeast District Coach of the Year, one of only two coaches to win the award three times. In 1992, he was cited as the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II Coach of the Year, and he also won a silver medal as an assistant to Mike Jarvis at the 1991 United States Olympic Festival.

He has been inducted into several Hall of Fames including the New England Basketball Hall of Fame (2003), the University of Bridgeport Athletics Hall of Fame (2006) and the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame (2007).