Blair to be Inducted into SLC Hall Honor
May 7, 2009
FRISCO, Texas - Former Stephen F. Austin women's basketball coach Gary Blair has been selected as the newest inductee into the Southland Conference Hall of Honor announced league officials Thursday afternoon. Blair will be inducted into the Hall of Honor along with former McNeese State basketball standout Joe Dumars. The two will be inducted during the SLC's annual Honor's Ceremony and Dinner on May 28 at the San Luis Resort in Galveston, Texas.
"The Southland Hall of Honor welcomes two legendary basketball icons, Joe Dumars and Gary Blair, with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and anticipation," league commissioner Tom Burnett said. "It's hard to find two bigger names in the annals of Southland men's and women's basketball that spans almost half a century of competition. We look forward to a fantastic celebration on May 28."
A five-time SLC Coach of the Year, Blair won more than 200 games during his time in Nacogdoches, and remains the school's all-time winningest coach in terms of win percentage (.830). Blair guided SFA to conference titles, and six top-25 finishes, including two top-10 finishes, seven 20-win seasons and one 30-win campaign.
Blair, who currently ranks 20th in victories among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches, took over for a team that won only three games in 1984-85 and posted a 16-win season. Blair never won fewer than 25 games during the remainder of his time at SFA.
"Stephen F. Austin was my very first head coaching job and I will always be grateful to Baker Pattillo for hiring me," Blair said of the current SFA president who was vice president at the time. "SFA gave me that opportunity after the program had fallen on hard times and I was able to rejuvenate something that Sue Gunter had started. We had some great players and I was fortunate to coach teams to the Sweet 16 in four of my last five seasons. Some of my greatest games were in the Southland. This is a good time for me and I'm honored to go into the Southland Conference Hall of Honor."
As for individual awards, Blair's student-athletes were honored numerous times in his eight seasons. He placed at least two players on the All-Southland Conference first-teams from 1988 to 1993, including a season-best five all-conference selections (two first team, three second team) in 1991-92. He coached five players to postseason accolades, including Portia Hill, who was an All-American in 1990.
He accepted the head coaching position at the University of Arkansas following the 1992-93 season. During his tenure in Fayetteville, Blair led the Lady Razorbacks to a 198-120 record and an appearance in the 1998 NCAA Women's Final Four in 1998. He departed Arkansas in 2003 to become the head coach at Texas A&M, and has led the Aggies to unprecedented accomplishments. His A&M teams have reached the "Sweet 16" on three occasions and his 2008 squad advanced to the NCAA "Elite Eight." A Naismith National Coach of the Year finalist for the second time in 2007.
The 2007 Big 12 Coach of the Year claimed his 500th career coaching victory against Iowa State on Feb. 20, 2008, to become the 36th all-time NCAA Division I coach to reach the milestone. Blair also holds the distinction of being one of only five coaches in NCAA history to take three schools to the NCAA Tournament, and ranks 36th in career victories among active coaches in all divisions of the NCAA.