Rick Byrd Named 2011 Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year

Rick Byrd Named 2011 Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year
Coach Byrd (center) with award namesake Hugh Durham (left) and award presenter Buzz Peterson (right), UNC-Wilmington head coach

HOUSTON, Texas - - In one of the greatest honors of a distinguished career, Belmont University men's basketball head coach Rick Byrd has been named the 2011 Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year, CollegeInsider.com announced Friday.

The award was presented at the CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet in Houston, site of the 2011 Men's Basketball Championship Final Four.

Byrd, who directed the Bruins to a 30-5 record and the program's fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last six years, was named Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year by the league office and CollegeInsider.com and NABC District 3 Coach of the Year earlier this postseason. He is also a finalist for the 2011 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award, the 2011 Clair Bee National Coach of the Year award, and the 2011 Skip Prosser Man of the Year award.

The 2010-11 Belmont Bruins led the Atlantic Sun Conference in 13 statistical categories, led the nation in scoring margin, and tied for the national lead with 13 road victories. The first program in the nation to tally 30 victories this season, Belmont became just the 14th non-BCS program since 1996-97 to record 30 victories in a single season.

The Bruins also earned national poll votes for nine consecutive weeks at the end of the regular season and currently rank No. 2 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid Major Top 25 Poll.

Byrd ranks 12th among active NCAA Division I head coaches in career victories with 610. On Jan. 5 of this year, Byrd joined Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Jim Calhoun (Connecticut), and Dave Bike (Sacred Heart) as one of only five head coaches in all of college basketball with 500 or more victories at their current school.

The 30-year coaching veteran was the 1995 NAIA National Coach of the Year, after directing Belmont to a 37-2 record and a place in the NAIA National Semifinals.

The Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year award, named after the legendary coach at Florida State, Georgia and Jacksonville, is presented annually to the top mid-major head coach in NCAA Division I men's basketball. Byrd, the lone Atlantic Sun Conference representative among the 16 finalists, was selected by a 20-member selection committee comprised of respected head coaches, administrators, journalists and commentators within the college basketball community.

The other award finalists were: Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Randy Bennett (St. Mary's), Ed Cooley (Fairfield), Cliff Ellis (Coastal Carolina), Jim Ferry (Long Island), B.J. Hill (Northern Colorado), Rob Jeter (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Sydney Johnson (Princeton), Greg Kampe (Oakland), Jim Larranaga (George Mason), Cuonzo Martin (Missouri State), Dave Paulsen (Bucknell), Clifford Reed (Bethune-Cookman), Brad Stevens (Butler) and Blaine Taylor (Old Dominion).

The previous Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year award winners were: Mike Hill (Wofford) in 2010, Todd Bozeman (Morgan State) in 2009, Keno Davis (Drake) in 2008, Gregg Marshall (Winthrop) in 2007, Pat Flannery (Bucknell) in 2006 and Bob Thomason (Pacific) in 2005.