Photo Courtesy of Texas A&M Sports Information
Nov. 12, 2008
NACOGDOCHES, Texas -
Former Stephen F. Austin women's head basketball coach Gary Blair will be inducted into the Ladyjack Hall of Fame Tuesday, Dec. 2, in the William R. Johnson Coliseum. The induction ceremony will take place at halftime of the Ladyjacks' game against Texas A&M.
"This is an opportunity for SFA to honor one of the all-time greats in women's basketball," said SFA Director of Athletics Robert Hill. "The late Sue Gunter was a pioneer of the game and built this program during the AIAW days. Blair carried the torch as women's athletics entered the NCAA. He helped make SFA the most dominant team in the Southland Conference, and one of the top programs in the nation."
One of the top coaching minds in the game today, Gary Blair has won more than 500 games during his illustrious 24-year career. Taking over the Ladyjack program for the 1985-86 season, Blair was given the charge of rebuilding a team that had struggled in the two previous seasons. The Ladyjacks won 16 games during his inaugural season, and followed that with a 25-6 campaign a year later.
Following his first year on campus, Blair's teams would win no fewer than 25 games in a season. Blair guided SFA to seven consecutive 20-win seasons, one 30-win campaign, six consecutive Southland Conference titles, six NCAA Championship appearances, six top-20 national rankings, four Sweet 16 appearances, two top-10 national rankings and one WNIT berth.
Blair won 210 games during his time as the Ladyjacks' head coach, and still stands as the school's all-time winningest coach in terms of winning percentage. A five-time Southland Conference Coach of the Year, Blair recorded a 6-6 record in NCAA tournament games, never losing an opening-round game.
Blair left SFA following the 1992-93 season, to become the head coach at Arkansas where he put the Lady Razorbacks on the national stage. Blair guided Arkansas to the 1998 NCAA Final Four, before moving on to become the head coach at Texas A&M.
He has continued a similar path of success in College Station. A two-time finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award, and the 2007 Big XII Coach of the Year, Blair guided the Aggies to the their first-ever Elite Eight appearance, and a program record 29 victories last season. In only five seasons in College Station, Blair has posted a 102-58 record.
"Blair's accomplishments in the game of women's basketball stretch far beyond the Stephen F. Austin campus," said Hill. "He has left his imprint success on every program he has been associated with."
Blair's Texas A&M Aggies enter the 2008-09 campaign ranked as high as 10th in the nation. The Ladyjacks' game against Texas A&M is slated to tip off at 7:30 p.m., and is a scheduled doubleheader with the Lumberjacks who will be taking on Jackson State at 5:30 p.m.