Former Arkansas College men’s basketball player Bernis Duke passes away

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Article by Matt Jagodzinski, Assistant Athletic Director for Media and Communications, Lyon College

BATESVILLE, Ark. – Former Arkansas College men’s basketball player Bernis Duke passed away early Tuesday morning.

Duke played at Arkansas College from 1950-53. He was inducted into the first class of the Lyon College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983. Duke was also a champion heavyweight boxer.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Lyon College Hall of Famer, Bernis Duke,” said Director of Athletics Kevin Jenkins. “Bernis was an outstanding basketball player during his time at Lyon and was a great supporter of Lyon College athletics after graduation. Bernis was a great man and a tremendous influence on many people throughout his life. Please keep his family and friends in your prayers.”

Duke was a legendary tennis coach at Oral Roberts, where he coached for 33 years. His teams won over 550 matches as he was inducted into the ORU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. Duke was also inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017.

During his distinguished career, Duke had 28 straight winning seasons and was ranked within the top 10 nationally numerous times. In 1969, his team finished with a perfect 24-0 record. Duke retired from ORU in 1999 as the sixth winningest coach in NCAA Division I history.


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