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Kalin Bennett Becomes the First Student Athlete on the Autism Spectrum to Sign to a Division I School

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Update: On Nov. 6, 2019, Kalin Bennett scored his first basket for Kent State University in Ohio, making him the first student athlete on the spectrum to score in a Division I basketball game, according to People. Kent State went on to win the game. Bennett told AP reporters, “It’s good to know that people look up to me but the real thing is: Everybody is capable of doing whatever they want to do in life. I hope I created a thing that’s going to transcend to more kids so they believe in themselves first and foremost.” 

Kalin Bennett, a basketball player who is on the autism spectrum, signed a letter of intent to play for Kent State University in Ohio. This makes Kent State the first NCAA school to sign a student athlete with autism to compete in a Division I sport. He is one of three students to join Kent State during their early signing period.

Bennet ranked as the No. 16 prospect in Arkansas during his senior year at Little Rock Christian Academy. He was recruited by several other colleges but chose Kent State. Kent State offers resources to assist students with autism, including a college success program for students with autism or Asperger’s syndrome that provides everything from experiential learning to job and career assistance.

According to, Bennett is the first basketball player on the autism spectrum in the NCAA to sign a letter of intent for a sports scholarship. After Bennett met with the autism coach coordinator at Kent State to ask questions about the program and supports available to him, he was ready to sign with the school.

The feeling was mutual. In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Kent State head basketball coach, Rob Senderoff, said they are excited to bring Bennett to the school.

“Kalin is a big, strong, physical player that has a soft touch,” he said. “We look forward to watching his development over the next few years.”

In a video interview, Bennett said he wants to be a professional basketball player. He also wants to use his platform to inspire other kids on the autism spectrum (and kids without autism, too).

I want to make an impact not just on the court, but with kids that are struggling with the same things I am. I want to use this platform to inspire other kids with autism and non-autism. I want to let them know, hey, if I can do this, you can do it, too. A lot of times they feel alone and by themselves, and I felt that same way growing up.

Bennett’s mother plans to relocate with him to help him transition onto a large college campus. Bennett is scheduled to start at Kent State in summer 2019.

Banner image via Facebook

Originally published: November 29, 2018
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