Coach Carter encourages students to invest in their futures

Joseph A. Stanonik

Coach Ken Carter brought Kent State students to their feet, made them raise their arms and touched their hearts. The ex-Richmond, Calif., high school basketball coach who was popularized in the movie Coach Carter spoke to students in the Student Center Ballroom last night.

“Being broke is disabling, but being poor is a state of mind,” Carter said.

Carter told the audience the four keys to success: accountability, teamwork, leadership and integrity.

“Life is going to come along and step on us, but if you have value, you will be able to get back-up,” Carter said.

Carter encouraged the audience to write down their goals by telling them of his own experiences. When he was 8, Carter said he began writing down his goals, starting with having a movie about his life.

“Over time the list got longer, but that goal always remained,” Carter said.

He also encouraged students to focus on their goals.

“If you try to do everything, you won’t succeed,” Carter said. “You have to be focused.”

Carter also gave credit to his seven sisters and older brother who helped validate his accountability. He told the audience they to need to find people in their lives who can validate their accountability.

Carter gained national prominence in January 1999 when he locked out the undefeated Richmond basketball team when 15 students failed to live up to the 2.3 grade point average that players, coaches and parents agreed to in a contract Carter had the team sign. Carter claimed the hype of being undefeated had gotten to the players’ heads and that he wasn’t punishing the team but making them accountable for each other.

“If someone can succeed at one thing, they can succeed at anything,” Carter said.

Carter attributed his new-found fame to the hard work of 35 years.

“Everything you do is an investment in your future,” Carter promised. “Never ask a lazy person to do anything because they won’t have the time.”

Carter, an alumnus of Richmond High School, returned to the school in 1997 as the head coach. He claimed it was an investment in his future and the future of the young men he coached.

He pitched the idea of a movie portraying the 1999 lockout to Paramount himself. Carter also personally recruited Samuel L. Jackson to star as himself in the movie. As part of the contract, in the scene when everyone rushes the court, Paramount agreed to allow all of Carter’s family, friends, coaches and players in the movie.

“I wrote them in so they’d get paid and wouldn’t take my money,” joked Carter.

Carter also spoke to the Kent State women’s basketball team before their game yesterday telling them about the power of teamwork and how working as a team will get them further than working as individuals.

Carter hoped the audience will remember “being kind and respectful will never go out of style.”

In 2000, Carter topped the national scene again when he rode 300 miles from Richmond, Calif., to the state capital in Sacramento on a push scooter to demand more funding for the Richmond school district.

In 2002, he left Richmond High School when a faculty member showed interest in the job. Since then he has focused on his two companies: Prime Time Publishing, which publishes educational books and materials, and Prime Time Sports, which specializes in sporting goods and personalized jerseys. He’s also the author of three books and runs the Coach Ken Carter Foundation, which reaches out to all students and athletes of the Richmond school district.

Carter was originally pursued by All Campus Programming Board to speak during Cabin Fever Week in the last week of February, but the scheduling didn’t work out, said Earl Watson, Artist Lecture chairman.

“We hope students leave with a positive message,” said Watson.

More information on Coach Carter can be found at

Contact college of education reporter Joseph A. Stanonik at [email protected]