Spirit of the Gift Biography Project

Histories of the men and women behind WSU's scholarships and fellowships

Gary Bender Scholarship in Broadcast Communication

Gary Bender attended the University of Wichita and graduated in 1962 with a bachelor’s in speech. He was a member of the football team until a shoulder injury forced him off the field. From then on, Mr. Bender announced Shocker football and basketball games on KMUW 89.1 Wichita Public Radio. He also participated in theater productions and joined Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.

In 1964, Mr. Bender received his master's in radio/television/film from the University of Kansas, where he launched his more than 40-year career calling games for the Jayhawks' basketball and football programs.

Mr. Bender is best known for the two NCAA Basketball Championships he called when Michael Jordan's North Carolina team beat Georgetown in 1982, and the next season when North Carolina State beat Houston with the "shot heard around the world."

He also called the "hail mary pass" when Roger Staubach beat the Minnesota Vikings in 1975. And during the 1988 Calgary Olympics, he covered the speed skating event that involved the tragic story of American Dan Jansen. He has been the voice of the Phoenix Suns for nearly two decades.

His wife, Linda, is a native of Abilene, Kan., and received a Bachelor of Arts in Education, majoring in elementary education in 1963 from the University of Wichita. She was an elementary teacher for many years. The Benders have two sons.

Mr. Bender created the Gary Bender Scholarship in Broadcast Communication in 2009 as a thank you to WSU for launching his career as a broadcaster.

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