A&M’s Blair to be inducted in women’s bball HOF

A&M’s Blair to be inducted in women’s bball HOF

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A&M’s Blair to be inducted in women’s bball HOF

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by Matt Callaway / Texas A&M Athletics

khou.com

Posted on June 6, 2013 at 7:09 PM

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Texas A&M women’s basketball head coach Gary Blair will be inducted to the prestigious Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame alongside five additional members of the Class of 2013 on Saturday evening.

Blair becomes the first basketball hall of fame inductee from Texas A&M in either men’s or women’s basketball.

"I have had the great opportunity to interact with the other inductees having either coached or coached against them and it will be an honor to stand beside them as we are inducted this weekend," Blair said. "When you begin your career you do not even think of the Hall of Fame, you dream of NCAA Tournament appearances, Final Fours or the ultimate dream of a National Championship. The Hall of Fame is never one of your goals, because nobody can make the Hall without great teammates or assistant coaches. The honor is mind-boggling because of who is already in the Hall of Fame and to think that some of my former players or assistants will hopefully be able to join me in Knoxville really makes me appreciate how fortunate I am to have had their support throughout my career."

A two-time national finalist for the prestigious Naismith Coach of the Year Award, Blair will be a member of five Hall of Fame classes, including induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2011, the Southland Conference Hall of Honor in 2009, the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjack Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. He was also honored with the 2011 New York Athletic Club’s Winged Foot Award, which is presented annually to the winning coaches of the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I Basketball Championships.

With Blair at the helm, Texas A&M has elevated into one of the nation’s elite programs. The Aggies have advanced to at least the NCAA Sweet 16 four of the last six years, earned a trip to the Elite Eight in 2008 and won the program’s first national championship in 2011.

Blair has guided A&M to a program-best No. 1 ranking in the national polls, a school-record eight straight NCAA Tournament appearances and produced A&M’s only first-team All-American in Danielle Adams. In addition, the Aggies have captured four conference trophies in the last seven years.

"Coach Blair is very deserving of being inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame," Texas A&M Athletic Director Eric Hyman said. "He has become an icon in the world of women’s basketball and will be a long time legend in the Texas A&M athletic annals. One of the most important qualities he possesses, besides the obvious ability to recruit and coach, is his leadership off the court. He truly cares about his players as people and works to guide them to be successful after their sports career has ended. We are very proud of all his accomplishments and are pleased he is being recognized nationally with his induction."

One of the winningest active Division I coaches in the women’s game today, Blair is one of only three all-time NCAA Division I women’s basketball coaches to lead two different teams to the NCAA Women’s Final Four (Texas A&M and Arkansas). 

He currently ranks in the top 15 in career victories and in the top 25 by winning percentage among active Division I coaches with an impressive 645-233 overall record (.735).

The all-time winningest women’s basketball coach in Texas A&M history and the 2007 Big 12 Coach of the Year, Blair claimed his 600th career coaching victory in 2011 to become the 22nd all-time NCAA Division I coach to reach the milestone. He also holds the distinction of being one of only six coaches in NCAA history to take three schools to the NCAA Tournament.

Over the course of his 28-year collegiate coaching career, which includes stops at Stephen F. Austin from 1985-93 and Arkansas from 1993-03, Blair has led his teams to 27 winning seasons, 22 20-win seasons, 19 NCAA Tournament appearances and 30 NCAA postseason victories. Blair has won a championship at every level of his coaching career including three state championships at Dallas South Oak Cliff High School, two national championships as an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech, a WNIT Championship at Arkansas and a national championship at Texas A&M.

Blair previously led the Lady Razorbacks to the 1998 NCAA Final Four and the Lady Jacks to four NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. He has followed that path of success at Texas A&M where he has put together a 237-100 record (.703) after nine seasons in Aggieland, including eight consecutive 20-win campaigns since 2005.

The other members of the WBHOF Class of 2013 are Jim Foster (coach), Peggie Gillom-Granderson (player), Jen Rizzotti (player), Annette Smith-Knight (player) and Sue Wicks (player).

Gillom-Granderson was the head coach at Texas A&M prior to Blair, from 1998-03. She compiled a record of 53-86 over those five seasons. While at A&M, Gillom-Granderson served as an assistant coach for the 2000 USA Basketball Olympic Team in Sydney, Australia, helping guide the team to a gold medal.

Blair and the Class of 2013 will be formally introduced at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in front of a capacity crowd at the Bijou Theatre. The day’s events will begin with an autograph session from the 2013 inductees followed by a gala reception hosted by Tennessee Head Coach Holly Warlick and Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma at the East Tennessee Historical Center. Following the induction ceremony the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame will host a post-induction celebration and silent auction.

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