May 3, 2013

Rick Byrd to Enter Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Saturday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's basketball head coach Rick Byrd will be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Saturday.

Joining Byrd in the Class of 2013 will be Ermal G. Allen (posthumous), Bob Bell (posthumous), Leonard Hamilton, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, Kelly Holcomb, Chris Jones, John Ed Miller (Lifetime Achievement), Larry Seivers, Trey Teague, and Frank Wycheck.

Also of note, Coach Byrd will join his father, Ben - a sports reporter and sports editor of the Knoxville Journal from 1947 to 1991 - in the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

Byrd's coaching career began in 1977 as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee. Then after head coaching stints at Maryville College and Lincoln Memorial University, and three seasons as an assistant coach at Tennessee Tech University, Byrd became the head coach at Belmont in 1986.

In the 27 seasons that followed, Belmont reached new heights as a men's basketball program.

Byrd led Belmont to a national No. 1 ranking and consecutive NAIA Final Four appearances in 1995 and 1996, before the program transitioned into NCAA Divison I.

Under Byrd, Belmont has reached postseason play in eight of the last 10 seasons, including NCAA Tournament appearances in six of the last eight years.

With the 2013 OVC Tournament title, Belmont joined the exclusive company of Kansas and Memphis as the only programs in the nation to earn six NCAA Tournament automatic bids in the last eight years.

But of even greater significance to Byrd, Belmont joined Kansas and Notre Dame as the only three programs in the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship with perfect graduation rates and perfect Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores.

This past fall, Byrd received the NCAA Bob Frederick Award for his lifelong commitment to sportsmanship, ethical conduct, and fair play.

Byrd ranks seventh among all active NCAA Division I head coaches in career victories with 663.

Among many career accomplishments, Byrd has been national Coach of the Year in NCAA Division I and NAIA, named district or conference Coach of the Year 11 times, and member of the NAIA Hall of Fame, Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame and Belmont University Athletic Hall of Fame.

Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Induction Weekend includes several festivites, a reunion of champions Friday evening, a luncheon and media/VIP reception Saturday afternoon, and formal induction ceremony Saturday evening from the Renaissance Nashville Hotel.

BelmontBruins.com will have complete coverage.