Hank and Bert Bertelkamp have become the newest members of the Nathan Dougherty Society by pledging their support for a basketball scholarship endowment fund in the family's name.
"The Bertelkamp name has been associated with Tennessee basketball for more than 50 years," said John Currie, associate athletic director for external operations at Tennessee. "This tremendous gift and commitment is an important step towards our eventual goal of endowing all athletic scholarships. By creating the Bertelkamp Basketball Scholarship Endowment, Hank and Bert are again showing their willingness to be leaders for their sport, university and community."
The pledge promises one full scholarship endowment for a basketball student-athlete. Leadership and loyalty have always been present in the Bertelkamp family's relationship with the university, and the scholarship endowment simply weds the two.
"Tennessee basketball has meant a lot to me in my life," said Hank Bertelkamp, who helped start the booster organization called the Orange Tie Club during coach Ray Mears' era. "We think the world of coach Buzz Peterson and what he's doing at Tennessee, and we want him to have the best of success."
"I think it's important for people at UT or wherever, if your university means something to you and you're in a good position, then you should try to give back," Bert Bertelkamp said. "We wanted to help the basketball program. I hope we can have an impact in a positive way, because we feel strongly about the leadership from Buzz and his staff, athletic director Mike Hamilton and his staff and the way the athletic department is headed."
The father-son Bertelkamp duo is one of the most recognizable names in Tennessee's rich basketball history. Hank Bertelkamp played forward for the Vols from 1951-53 and averaged 8.9 points per game in his three years under coach Emmett Lowery. He was captain of the squad in 1953, when he ranked third on the team in scoring at 14.3 points and averaged 7.5 rebounds as a senior.
Nearly 30 years later, Bert Bertelkamp carried the torch as guard for the Vols from 1976-80. He switched from shooting guard his sophomore year, when he averaged 11.4 points, to point guard as a junior under coach Don DeVoe and started handing out assists. The younger Bertelkamp averaged 6.1 points and dished out a total of 332 assists in his career, ranking ninth on Tennessee's all-time list. He led the team in 1980 by giving 5.3 assists per game. That year, he would've set an NCAA record for assists in a postseason game when he dished 16 against Maryland, but the statistic wasn't officially recognized by the NCAA until 1983.
The Vols claimed the 1976-77 Southeastern Conference championship and the 1979 SEC tournament title with Bert in the backcourt. The three-year starter helped guide Tennessee to three NCAA tournaments in his four years as a Vol.
"It is very special to again have former student-athletes step forward and visibly demonstrate their sense of ownership in wanting their sport to continue to grow and prosper at UT," Currie said.
Bert Bertelkamp is now the assist man for Bob Kesling, Voice of the Vols. He'll begin his sixth year as color analyst for the Vol Network's radio broadcasts of UT basketball. The Bertelkamps operate their own company, Bertelkamp Automation, Inc. Hank Bertelkamp started the factory automation distributor in 1975, and Bert is now the president of the Knoxville-based company.