LOS ANGELES, CA (October 5, 2021) – Rick Byrd will receive the John R. Wooden Award “Legends of Coaching” honor in 2022. Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law Craig Impelman and 2021 recipient Dave Yanai were proud to announce his selection at the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s annual Wooden Award Tip-Off Luncheon. The event featured the head coaches from the Division I men’s basketball programs in Southern California. The “Legends of Coaching” honor recognizes coaches who exemplify Coach Wooden’s high standard of coaching success and personal integrity.
The “Legends of Coaching” award was adopted by the Wooden Award Steering Committee in 1999. The honorees are selected based on character, success on the court, graduation rate of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy, and identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award. He will be presented the honor along with the 2022 Wooden Award winners in April 2022.
Coach Byrd, a native of Knoxville, TN, systematically led Belmont University to national prominence in both NCAA Division I and NAIA over 33 years. He ranks 12th all-time among NCAA Division I head coaches with 805 career victories. He led the Bruins to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and 17 conference championships (10 regular season, 7 conference tournament) in this final 14 seasons and national top 25 poll votes in eight of his last nine years.
Even more important than his on-court success, Byrd established an unparalleled standard of academic achievement among NCAA Division I programs. Since 2001, Belmont leads the nation in Academic All-America selections and is the only program to rank among the nation’s best every year since the inception of the Academic Progress Rate (APR).
Belmont has posted a team grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher in 20 consecutive years and claimed the Academic National Championship on InsiderHigherEd.com each of its last three NCAA Tournament appearances. In the NCAA Division I era, every Belmont player who completed eligibility under Byrd’s watch earned his degree, with only two scholarship student-athletes transferring out over his final 15 seasons.
Prior to Belmont, Byrd served as head coach at Lincoln Memorial (TN) University and Maryville (TN) College. Coach Byrd also served as a counselor for the John Wooden Basketball Camps.