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Former LMU Coach Rick Byrd Selected For National Collegiate Basketball Hall Of Fame


Rick Byrd during his LMU days. (LMU Athletics Photo)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In an announcement made Sunday afternoon by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), former Lincoln Memorial University men's basketball head coach Rick Byrd has been selected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2021. Leading the Railsplitters for three seasons from 1983-86, Byrd earned 69 of his remarkable 805 career victories while serving as head coach in Harrogate.


Byrd will join the late Len Bias (Maryland), David Greenwood (UCLA), Hersey Hawkins (Bradley), Jim Jackson (Ohio State), Antawn Jamison (North Carolina), Paul Pierce (Kansas) and coaching legend Tom Penders in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2021.


All eight honorees will be enshrined next November in Kansas City, Missouri, at the 2021 National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Celebration. The event is part of Kansas City's Hall of Fame Weekend, which also includes the annual Hall of Fame Classic tournament.


A 2019 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction candidate, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame inductee and 2015 LMU Athlete's Hall of Fame member, Byrd posted an impressive 69-28 (.711) record while leading the Railsplitters. Under Byrd's guidance LMU was dominant in the NAIA Volunteer State Athletic Conference (VSAC), going 32-4 (.889) in league play while capturing the 1984 VSAC East Division title and claiming a share of the 1985 VSAC championship.


With Byrd at the helm, the Railsplitters went 26-9 overall during the 1984-85 season and were ranked among the nation's top 20. In his final season at LMU in 1985-86, Byrd's Railsplitters were co-champions of the newly-formed Tennessee Valley Athletic Conference (TVAC). He coached NAIA All-American Keith Beck, who is second in program history in both points (2,404) and made field goals (817) and is the school's all-time leading rebounder (1,197). Other pupils under Byrd's tutelage at LMU include Darrell Cox, who ranks seventh in Railsplitter history in scoring (1,753), and NAIA Academic All-American Jerry Burnette.


One of the most respected and well-liked coaches in college basketball, Byrd arrived at LMU after serving as an assistant coach at Tennessee Tech. Prior to his time with the Golden Eagles, Byrd was the head coach at NCAA Division III Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee, for two seasons (1978-80). Following his three-year Blue and Gray stay, the Knoxville native took over the Belmont University men's basketball program in Nashville.


Leading Belmont to national prominence and overseeing the program's transition from NAIA to Division I in 1996, Byrd was the head coach of the Bruins for 33 years (1986-2019). Accounting for 62.4 percent of the school's total wins, the 14-time district or conference coach of the year took Belmont to eight NCAA Tournaments and guided the Bruins to 17 league championships in his final 14 seasons. Retiring in 2019 at the age of 65, Byrd's career conference winning percentage of .797 (447-114) ranks second in Division I.


The NCAA Men's Basketball Rules' Committee Chairman from 2013-15, Byrd received the 2012 NCAA Bob Frederick award for his lifelong commitment to sportsmanship, ethical conduct and fair play. He was the 2011 Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year and coached five Bruins to Associated Press All-America honors. Among Byrd's former players include 2017 NBA champion Ian Clark and 2019 NBA Draft first-round pick Dylan Windler.

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