Bill Bennett honored with CoSIDA Lifetime Achievement Award

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 - 12:15pm

Class of ‘74 journalism alumnus Bill Bennett was awarded a lifetime achievement award to honor his 43 years as a sports information director (SID) in college athletics.

The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) is a national organization with over 3,200 members in the sports public relations, communications and media relations industry who work in intercollegiate athletics. The CoSIDA Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to members who have served in the profession for at least 25 years and are retiring or leaving their role in athletic communications.

From 1974 to 1981 Bennett was an assistant SID at Nebraska. Before graduating, he was the sports editor at the Daily Nebraskan and an intern at Nebraska’s sports information office. He planned on becoming a sportswriter, but decided to apply for an open role where he had just finished up his internship.

The role opened up when Tom Simons, one of the full-time assistants in Nebraska’s SID office, took a PR job with the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals. Bennett got the job, officially starting his long career in sports information.

Bennett was at Nebraska for eight years then from 1981 to 1983 he was the head sports information director at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He moved back to Nebraska in 1983 to serve as head SID at Nebraska Wesleyan before heading west again in 1984 where he got a role as associate SID at UCLA.

For 22 years Bennett was the SID liaison to UCLA’s men’s basketball team, including the 1995 NCAA champions. He also served as the media relations director for the Bruins’ men’s and women’s track and field teams, which won five NCAA indoor and outdoor crowns during his time.

Bennett left the SID field in 2006, but remained at UCLA to help the athletic department with special projects and fundraising events. He hosted the men’s basketball reunions, the True Blue Celebration auction and Dribble for the Cure events.

Bennett also co-authored the book, “UCLA Football Vault: The History of the Bruins” with broadcaster Chris Roberts. Then after 33 years at UCLA he officially retired in 2017.

“The highlights of my career were working with all the student-athletes,” said Bennett. “They come in as freshmen, you watch them grow and mature, you become friends, including some who become lifelong friends.”

Today Bennett and his wife Joanne (who also worked in the UCLA athletic department before retiring) live a quieter life in Venice, California. They enjoy traveling, walking their dog along the canals, exercising—yoga for Joanne, swimming for Bill.

Read more about Bennett in this article by retired University of Southern California consultant and sports information director and CoSIDA special awards committee member Tim Tessalone.

Bill Bennett graphic