Pillar of Strength, Legacy of Service: Betty Wiseman Announces Retirement

Photo Gallery: Betty Wiseman - Through the Years

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - An unmistakable fixture on campus for five decades, Belmont University Assistant Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Betty Wiseman announced her retirement Friday.

BW. Two letters. Immeasurable impact.

To capture Wiseman's lasting mark upon Belmont University - and upon the countless people privileged to know her - in an online release seems insufficient. But we shall try. 

A Volunteer State original, Betty Wiseman grew up in Portland, Tennessee, forging a love of sport from an early age. Betty became a prep standout at Portland High School, leading her team in scoring five consecutive years.

After bypassing a chance to play for the National & World AAU Basketball Champions to attend college, Wiseman graduated from Belmont in 1965. She was named as Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education in 1966, and began a teaching career that would span 40 years, including being named Professor Emeritus in the Department of Health and Human Performance in 2006.

In 1968, with the help of then President Dr. Herbert Gabhart, Wiseman blazed a significant trail, founding the women's basketball program at Belmont. Years ahead of the landmark Title IX legislation, Wiseman was the heartbeat of the program, cobbling together practice times and uniforms, support staff and equipment long before the days of nationally-televised Final Fours and professional leagues.

The Belmont Rebelettes were not only one of the first programs in the state, but in the entire southeast, prompting legions of aspiring female student-athletes to Wiseman's summer camps - perhaps most notably a touted star from Cheatham County named Pat Head Summitt.

Over the 16 years to follow, Wiseman would lead the program and university to new heights, amassing 248 victories and an unparalleled four consecutive berths in the National Women's Invitational Tournament from 1973-1977. Along the way, Belmont defeated the likes of Tennessee, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Alabama and Nebraska.

Wiseman made a seamless transition from coaching into athletic administration, receiving numerous awards for meritorious service along the way.

In 1999, Wiseman was given the Josten-Berenson Service Award by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) during the NCAA Women's Final Four in San Jose, California to recognize her lifelong commitment to women's basketball. Four years later, as the Curb Event Center opened, Belmont University honored her by naming part of the university's new athletic facility the Striplin-Wiseman Athletic Office Complex.

The following spring, Wiseman was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame for her contributions to promoting women's basketball in the state. She was the first Belmont coach or athlete to be so honored. Then in July 2007, Wiseman was named a Tennessee Sports Legend by The Tennessean.

Most recently, the Ohio Valley Conference honored Wiseman as part of the league's celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX.

But for those who know her, Wiseman's true passion and life work is spreading the Gospel message, here and around the world.

In leading Belmont University's Sports Evangelism Mission Trips, Wiseman led travel parties of Belmont student-athletes and administrators to countries such as Poland, Portugal, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, South Africa, Ukraine, Malta and Italy. The group used sport as a vehicle to glorify God and, in partnership with entrenched missionaries, invite locals into personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Wiseman shared her life experiences in the book, Bounce the Balls and They Will Come: A Coach's Passion for the Great Commission.

From opening educational and athletic opportunities to her student-athletes to being an exemplar of faith and discipleship, Wiseman has enriched so many lives.

She will remain connected with Bruin teams and the campus community in a more informal capacity.

Coach. Leader. Ambassador. Friend. BW.