Basketball Great Bill Cartwright Returns to His Alma Mater

Bill Cartwright speaking at the University of San Francisco in 2011. Photo credit: Shawn P. Calhoun.

Bill Cartwright speaking at the University of San Francisco in 2011. Photo credit: Shawn P. Calhoun.

Cartwright will serve as University of San Francisco ambassador


SAN FRANCISCO, March 5, 2016  — Legendary basketball star Bill Cartwright is returning to the University of San Francisco (USF), his alma mater, as Director of Special Initiatives. Cartwright is a three-time All-American who led USF’s men’s basketball program to national prominence in the 1970s, and went on to a highly successful career as both a player and coach in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

In his new role, Cartwright will help develop connections with USF alumni and the San Francisco community, assist the Office of Development with raising funds, and mentor students from underrepresented groups. He starts in April.

Bill Cartwright is one of USF’s outstanding alumni, and I am honored to welcome him home to the Hilltop,” said Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., university president. “He has had a brilliant career as an athlete, a coach, a business person, and an engaged citizen, and he will be a great mentor to our current students as well. All of us at USF congratulate him on being inducted into the West Coast Conference (WCC) Hall of Honor.”

Cartwright will be inducted into the WCC Hall of Honor today in Las Vegas, during the WCC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. In 2001, the WCC also named Cartwright to its list of 50 greatest WCC student-athletes of all time.

“I have always felt a really strong connection with the University of San Francisco,” Cartwright said. “USF is very special to me because so much of my growth occurred there. It is a great place of learning, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to come back.”

Cartwright said he is looking forward to focusing new attention on the university. “I don’t think enough people know about USF, and I want it to be as recognized as Stanford and U.C.-Berkeley.  I want to help bring USF the visibility I think it deserves.”

He also said that one of the most appealing parts of the job is the opportunity to work with — and mentor — the next generation of USF students.

The 7’1” center had tremendous success both on and off the basketball court at USF. He holds two degrees from the university—a B.A. in sociology and a master’s degree in organizational development—and still ranks as the Dons all-time leading scorer with 2,116 points. The standout athlete led USF to three NCAA tournaments, and the WCC named him Player of the Year all three times, making him the only person to hold this distinction in the history of WCC men’s basketball. In his junior and senior year, he also earned first team All-America honors.

Cartwright’s 16-year career with the NBA started on a spectacular note when he was the third player chosen in the 1979 draft. He played first for the New York Knicks, and then the Chicago Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics. He was a member of the fabled Bulls team that won three back-to-back championships in the early 90s, and he scored two more championships as an assistant coach under Phil Jackson in 1997 and ’98. In 2001-2002, he was the Bulls’ head coach.

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