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Three Rivers College will hold a retirement celebration honoring former TRC men’s basketball coach Gene Bess. 

The event will be from 2-5 p.m. Saturday at the Libla Family Sports Complex. There will be a photoshoot with Coach Bess from 2-3 p.m. in the main entrance of the Libla Family Sports Complex, followed by a ceremony to honor Coach Bess. Former Raiders in attendance will be seated on the floor and the general public will be seated in the stands. Admission is free.

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.” 

Three Rivers College is committed to contributing to the quality of life in Southeast Missouri with quality, affordable higher education opportunities and community services that support and encourage the economic, civic, and cultural vitality of the region. For more information about college and workforce programs and upcoming events, visit 

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