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.
Grammy-winning country artist and Belmont Bruin superfan Vince Gill sent his congratulations to Coach Byrd on this achievement. Click here for the video:
John R. Wooden Award
Legends of Coaching Honorees
2022 Rick Byrd, Belmont
2021 Dave Yanai, Cal State Dominguez Hills/Los Angeles
2020 C. Vivian Stringer, Rutgers
2019 Lon Kruger, Oklahoma
2018 Jay Wright, Villanova
2017 Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame
2016 Tubby Smith, Texas Tech
2015 Steve Fisher, San Diego State
2014 Tara VanDerveer, Stanford
2013 Bill Self, Kansas
2012 Geno Auriemma, Connecticut
2011 Tom Izzo, Michigan State
2010 Billy Donovan, Florida
2009 Rick Barnes, Texas
2008 Pat Summitt, Tennessee
2007 Gene Keady, Purdue
2006 Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
2005 Jim Calhoun, Connecticut
2004 Mike Montgomery, Stanford
2003 Roy Williams, Kansas
2002 Denny Crum, Louisville
2001 Lute Olson, Arizona
2000 Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
1999 Dean Smith, North Carolina
About the John R. Wooden Award
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award Program hosts the most prestigious honors in college
basketball recognizing The Wooden Award Most Outstanding Player for men and women, The Wooden Award All America Teams for men and women and the annual selection of the Wooden Award Legend of Coaching recipient. Honorees have proven to their university that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the John R. Wooden Award as set forth by Coach Wooden and the Wooden Award Steering Committee, including making progress towards graduation and maintaining at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA. Previous winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), Kevin Durant (’07), Candace Parker (’07; ’08), Maya Moore (’09; ’11), Chiney Ogwumike (’14), and last year’s recipients, Paige Bueckers of Connecticut and Luka Garza of Iowa.
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed nearly one million dollars to the universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the Wooden Award All American recipients and has sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with the Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament brings together Special Olympics athletes and Wooden Award All Americans and coaches in attendance. It is hosted at the Los Angeles Athletic Club during the John R. Wooden Award Weekend.
The Legends of Coaching Award will be presented along with the Wooden Award Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year in April 2022. For up-to-date information on the Wooden Award, please go to www.woodenaward.com and follow the Wooden Award on Facebook at www.facebook.com/woodenaward and @WoodenAward on Twitter and Instagram.