The bronze will be a life-sized standing figure depicting the coach with basketball in hand wearing his familiar suit and tie. The sculpture will be located on the entry plaza of the Libla Family Sports Center in 2022.
The former coach of the men's basketball team at Three Rivers Community College was hired in 1971.
Coach Bess won a record 1,300 wins in 50 seasons as Three Rivers head coach while teaching two classes a semester, and serving as the Three Rivers Athletic Director throughout his career. At least 42 former players for Bess have gone on to coach all over the country.
He became college basketball’s all-time wins leader in 2001 when he surpassed North Carolina’s Dean Smith and Richard Baldwin of Broome Community College. He was the first college basketball coach to reach 1,000 wins in 2006, the first with 1,100 wins four seasons later, and 1,200 in 2015. His 1,300th win came in what ended up being his final home game on a court named in his honor. Coach Bess finished with a career record of 1,300-416, won national championships in 1979 and 1992, coached in four national title games, appeared in 17 national tournaments, won 23 region championships, and is a member of four halls of fame.
“He brought notoriety, he brought fame, he brought championships, but that’s not the important thing that he brought to our school,” Three Rivers President Dr. Wesley Payne said. “He brought honor. He brought a dedication that was an example to everyone that works there or walked through the doors as a student. He brought courage, he brought direction, he brought an example that was worthy to follow.”