David Borne | Sports Editor
Oct. 17, 2019
Before Keith Dambrot began his journey to revitalize Duquesne’s men’s basketball program, the Akron, OH native managed to build a college basketball empire in his hometown.
Dambrot spent 13 seasons as the head coach of the University of Akron’s men’s basketball team, and established the program as one of the best in the Mid-Atlantic Conference.
For his efforts, Dambrot was inducted into Akron Athletics’ 2019 Sports Hall of Fame class on Saturday, Oct. 12. Dambrot was one of six inductees honored at an event last weekend.
“I’ve been around this university since I was born, really,” Dambrot told reporters prior to the event. “My mother was a college professor here, started the women’s studies program and battled for people’s rights and women’s rights. She was one of the initiators of the union for the faculty,”
“I’ve been around this university for as long as I can remember. There’s just great memories, and I’m honored to be back.”
His time on the sidelines is not the only contribution Dambrot made to Akron Athletics.
He also spent four seasons as a member of Akron’s varsity baseball team, starring at third base for the Zips. Dambrot was a three-year starter for the team, a team captain, and earned team MVP honors during his collegiate career on the diamond.
While Dambrot expressed his overall excitement to be inducted, he was particularly pleased that he could enter the Hall of Fame during the same year as two of the players he coached.
“To be able to go in with Dru [Joyce] and [Romeo Travis] as well, who were really an integral part of us turning our program around, it’s thrilling.”
The head coach posted an overall record of 305-109 at Akron before inking a seven-year contract with Duquesne in 2017.
During his tenure with the Zips, he led the program to three NCAA Tournament appearances (2008-09, 2010-11, 2012-13), as well as five appearances in the NIT.
Dambrot touched on several key memories that stuck out to him from his time at Akron. Watching the program rise to one of consistent relevance is what he holds most dearly to him about his tenure with the Zips.
“I thought that when we beat Temple in the NIT at Temple, I thought that was a big deal. Especially with Coach [John] Chaney coaching. I thought that kind of got us over the hump,” Dambrot said.
“Then going to that first NCAA Tournament was obviously thrilling, since Akron hadn’t been in the NCAA Tournament since Coach [Bob] Huggins was here,”
“For me, the main thing was just the consistency of how good our teams were over time. That’s really a tribute to the players that we had,” he added.
While the head coach now spends the majority of his time in Pittsburgh, he still owns his house in the Akron area. He noted that he plans on returning to Central Ohio at the end of his career.
As an Akron native, a graduate of the University of Akron, and a former coach at the school, being honored into its Athletic’s Hall of Fame was the ultimate honor for Dambrot.
“I think any time you can coach and play at the university where you grew up, where your mother was a professor, where all your family are… I’m really an Akronite and nothing really changed, for me it’s an exciting time,” Dambrot said.