Don Cook smiled – the way he begins any of his intriguing anecdotes – and pointed at Jack Kaiser’s name printed on a pinstriped drawstring bag with a mini-bat protruding out of the top, perched on one of the Athletic Director’s office tables. The memento was from his dear friend’s ceremony for having the baseball stadium at St. John’s University named after him.
Kaiser has become synonymous with the Red Storm’s athletic department, so McCallen Field turned into a facility dedicated to him after he threw out a ceremonial first pitch in front of such famous onlookers as John Franco, Bob Sheppard and Frank Viola.
The date was May 5, 2007.
It is high time for Dave Bike’s day to come at Sacred Heart.
In regards to the little school nestled in Fairfield, it’s safe to say the men’s basketball coach has reached Kaiser’s level when it comes to displaying leadership and commitment to one institution for a long period of time. For that, Bike deserves to have his heralded name displayed on the William H. Pitt Center’s main basketball court much like how Duke University honored its coach, Mike Krzyzewski, with “Coach K Court” pressed on the Cameron Indoor Stadium’s hardwood, or that Providence College did with Dave Gavitt at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Such a prestigious honor could only scratch the surface on how this university can repay such a historic and accomplished leader.
“[Bike] is such a respected figure in college sports and a lot of people, including students, don’t know about it because his history dates back 30 years,” said Sacred Heart’s Assistant VP for Institutional Advancement, Michael Iannazzi, through a phone interview. “He’s operated at the top levels for a remarkable period of time. He’s a real jewel.”
Bike arrived through the gates of Sacred Heart in 1978, and served as both athletic director and head basketball coach until 1992. Along with being one of the most decorated athletes in Bridgeport’s history – he was inducted to the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame – Bike has built a reputation on the sidelines not many have been able to top.
Currently ranked 21st among active coaches in the country for all-time wins, Bike is in the process of putting the Pioneers in position for another shot at the Northeast Conference title in his 30th year.
“I think that having coach Bike's name written on the court would be a very deserving honor for him,” says the Pioneers’ senior co-captain, Brice Brooks, in support of his coach. “He’s been coaching here 30 years, has been a standout member of the Bridgeport community all his life, and is very well-respected throughout the area. Coach Bike is Sacred Heart basketball.”
Along with Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse is another member of coaches that have become the face of their respective programs. Boeheim, who is the longest-tenured coach in the nation at his alma mater, also worked his way into the group of coaches worthy of such a tribute. And if you examine the resumes of the two national championship leaders, how can you leave out Bike in the discussion?
“I think he deserves the court to be named after him,” says senior co-captain Drew Shubik. “He won a national championship and has made the transition from a Division II powerhouse to a very respectable Division I program rather quickly. I would like for the court to be named after him.”
Through an Agatha Christie-like search to find out if this would be possible, many sources familiar with the situation have hinted the ultimate decision lies in the administration’s hands. SHU president, Dr. Anthony Cernera, among many others, has done wonderful things to enhance our community’s growth. I applaud the administration’s work and trust one day they will find a way to make this much-deserved mark of respect become a reality.
After 30 years of loyalty to his alma mater, isn't it time to repay Dave Bike by naming the Pitt Center court after him?
“It’d be wonderful,” said Cook. “There’s no debate as to whether it’s deserved or not. But it’s an issue bigger than athletics.”
On Feb. 7, Syracuse University’s student newspaper, The Daily Orange, featured an article about Bike that was linked on Sacred Heart’s homepage this past month.
"I've been going to the Final Four for 30 years now," Bike said to the article’s author, Matt Ehalt. "The thing that I dream about is when you get to the championship games, the finals, the semifinals, they have the banners of the schools that participated in the tournament. That's something I would like to see, Sacred Heart's name up there one of these days."
Sacred Heart isn’t the only name that should be etched somewhere for all to see and it’s appropriate that the institution enables Bike’s legacy to truly glisten.