Former Auburn High coaches to help tell Diddle story
By Jim Turner

Posted on September 8, 2019 8:24 PM


WKU Coach E.A. Diddle had a gift for spotting unpolished talent and molding them into outstanding athletes who often exceeded expectations. No one experienced this more than his student athletes.

The community is invited to explore the life and legacy of Coach Diddle through the Society for Lifelong Learning September Food for Thought event on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Hosted by author and syndicated newspaper columnist Gary West, the event will feature conversations with four of Diddle’s former players: Darel Carrier, Ronnie Clark, Bobby Rascoe and Jim Richards. 

Clark and Richards are former coaches at Auburn High School in Logan County in the late 1950s and early 60s. West was a regular visitor to Russellville when he was printing some of his publications at Al Smith Communications on the Public Square. Coach Diddle had several relatives in the Adairville area.

“For many, he's only a name on a building,” said West, “but Coach Diddle was one of the most well-known coaches in all of college basketball. His influence made a lasting impact on not only WKU, but on the entire sport of basketball.”

Over 50 years after his death, Coach E.A. Diddle remains one of the most successful coaches in the history of college sports. Upon his retirement in 1964, Diddle had coached 1,062 Hilltopper basketball games and had more wins than any other coach in NCAA history . . . and he still ranks among the top 16 today.

Diddle was an early proponent of the fast-break, a style of play that contributed to his tremendous success and was quickly adopted by teams throughout the country.

He was also a showman and had an unorthodox approach.

According to WKU archives, he once stated, "We play the fast break because it makes people come to our gymnasium. They like to see scoring. We give them what they like. I see it as entertainment.”

His teams entertained fans by dunking the ball, which was not widely accepted by straight-laced coaches at the time. His use of a red towel during games established a long-standing WKU tradition that today is the ultimate representation of Hilltopper spirit.

Event Details

Food for Thought: “The Coach Diddle Story . . . From Those Who Knew Him Then” will take place

Wednesday, Sept. 18, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Augenstein Alumni Center, 292 Alumni Avenue on the WKU campus in Bowling Green. Tickets are $12 and include the event, light lunch and a beverage. 

To register and learn more about Gary West and the panel of former athletes, visit

Gary P. West began his freshman year at Western in 1961. Writing for the student newspaper he wrote stories on Coach Diddle, Darel and Harel Carrier. Later in 1981, he became the first executive director of the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation where he also broadcast basketball games with legendary Wes Strader for 13 years. He has authored 14 books, writes a syndicated newspaper column, and is a frequent writer for Kentucky Monthly magazine.

Ronnie Clark was a high school basketball standout from Henderson. Played for Coach Diddle in the 1953 Kentucky-Ohio All Star game before playing for him as a Hilltopper from 1953 to 1957. Ronnie has served as a Western Board of Regent, a bank president and mayor of Franklin.

Jim Richards came to Western in 1956, where he became a standout baseball player for Coach Diddle. There are very few people more identified with Western than Jim.  After winning the high school state championship at Glasgow in 1968, he joined the basketball coaching staff at Western. In 1972, he became the head coach. Other roles he had were Assistant AD, golf coach and Director of Alumni Affairs. He is the nephew of the late Russellville School Superintendent Robert E. Stevenson, for whom Stevenson Elementary School is named.


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