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Coaching Stipend Fund Memorializes
Blugold Hall of Fame Basketball Player

RELEASED: Sept. 19, 2008

former UW-Eau Claire basketball player, Joe Merten
Joe Merten, who played basketball at UW-Eau Claire from 1977-81 under former Blugold Coach Ken Anderson, died in March 2008. His widow, Susan Merten, has endowed a coaching stipend fund in his memory for the university’s department of athletics.

EAU CLAIRE — The widow of a Blugold Basketball Hall of Fame member has endowed a coaching stipend fund for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire department of athletics.

Susan Merten established the fund in memory of her husband, Joe Merten, who died in March 2008.

The Joe Merten Coaching Award will award $600 to a Blugold part-time assistant coach or graduate assistant coach who demonstrates a deep commitment to student athletes and embodies a passion for lifelong learning and love of the game.

The endowment fund is given as recognition of Joe Merten's love of young people and his love of sports, Susan Merten said.

"I thought this endowment would be a good way to affect a lot of kids through one person," Susan Merten said."I thought perhaps UW-Eau Claire could keep a good student coach in place and hence be able to influence the players longer."

Joe Merten played basketball at UW-Eau Claire from 1977-81. He started 98 of the 113 games he played for former Blugold Coach Ken Anderson, scoring 1,193 points with 598 rebounds and 439 assists. He still ranks among the top 20 in career scoring and among the top five in career assists. He was selected three times to the All Conference team and twice to the NAIA All district team. He was inducted into the UW-Eau Claire Hall of Fame in 2002.

"UW-Eau Claire and the athletics department are honored that Susan Merten has created the Joe Merten Coaching Award to honor her late husband," said Scott Kilgallon, UW-Eau Claire athletics director. "The generosity of this award will help to recognize and support an assistant coach who exemplifies the same passion and dedication that Mr. Merten showed as a player and person. This award will keep his memory alive by providing positive support for a dedicated and aspiring coach."

The award may be renewed for one additional year so a recipient could hold it for two years. The first award will be made this fall at the annual UW-Eau Claire Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner.

Joe Merten was drafted in 1981 by the Utah Jazz. He was invited to the Milwaukee Bucks camp in 1981, and was the last player cut. He played for the Continental Basketball Association's Alberta Dusters 1981-82 and earned a spot on the CBA's all-star game. He began the 1982 season with the Las Vegas Silvers, but was traded to the Oshkosh Flyers.

Joe Merten graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in business. In 1985-86, he became the youngest head coach in the CBA as coach of the Oshkosh Flyers. For the past 25 years he was employed at Menards and was a commercial contractor sales representative.

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KH/JB

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