Friends of Basketball


Dan Peterson

Year Inducted: 1995

Category: Friends of Basketball

Schools / Organizations: McKendree College (now McKendree University)
Michigan State University
US Naval Academy
The University of Delaware

Biography: Dan Peterson didn’t set out to be “Italy’s Favorite American,” as some Italian publications refer to this native of Evanston.  Ten months out of every year, he’s perhaps the best known American in Italy.  Peterson is that country’s answer to the likes of John Wooden, Mark Twain, Brent Musburger, and Don Meredith.  For two months each year, Peterson returns to his wife and family near Chattanooga, Tennessee.  That’s something he’s been doing since the 1972-73 basketball season when he coached the Chilean National Team.  With a diploma from Evanston Township High School, an undergraduate degree at Northwestern University in education and a master’s degree in sports administration from The University of Michigan, Peterson held assistant coaching jobs at McKendree College, Michigan State and the Naval Academy before five seasons as head coach at the University of Delaware.  When Rollie Massimino went to Villanova instead of Bologna, Italy, Dan Peterson went to Bologna.  In 14 seasons at Bologna and Milano, Italy, this Illinois native compiled a 448-165 record  while winning more Italian League playoffs (4) and second place finishes (5) than anyone.  Peterson also has won two European Cups and finished second three times.  In 1980, in addition to coaching, Peterson began providing color-commentary for tape-delayed broadcasts of NBA games on Italian television.  Peterson’s ventures are now television shows, sports camps, assorted books, the Italian version of Don Meredith’s Lipton Tea commercials and even a country music record.  Peterson is quick to say that 90% of his coaching he learned right here in Illinois.  The 5-foot-5 Peterson, who never played in high school or college, credits Jack Burmaster, Harry Kinert, Harry Combes, George Ireland, Ray Meyer, Waldo Fisher, and Jimmy “Barney” Oldfield.