Rick Byrd to be inducted into National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame
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Rick Byrd to be inducted into National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame

Former Belmont basketball head coach Rick Byrd will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the hall of fame class of 2021. 

“I am very grateful for this recognition, but mostly it just makes me appreciate our coaching staff and most importantly the players who are responsible for this honor,” said Byrd.   

Byrd retired from Belmont in 2019, with an all-time coaching record of 805-402. His hall of fame induction comes as no surprise. In 33 years at Belmont, he reached eight NCAA Tournaments and led the Bruins to 17 conference regular season and tournament championships. 

He is being recognized along with seven other college greats in the class of 2021. Those individuals include Len Bias, Paul Pierce, Hersey Hawkins, David Greenwood, Tom Penders, Antwan Jamison and Jim Jackson. 

Along with this latest hall of fame induction, Byrd is a 2019 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction candidate. He is also in the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and he has already been recognized for his outstanding achievements as a coach, as well as in his player’s lives. 

“Coaching basketball was all I ever wanted to do, and coaching college basketball was all I did for 42 years. It was my life-long work to coach young men, and to be honored by my peers for doing something I loved is more than I could have dared to hope for,” said Byrd in a statement to Belmont’s athletic department. 

He is responsible for the rise of Belmont basketball to national prominence during his long tenure on the sidelines. He currently ranks 12th all-time among NCAA Division I head coaches in wins, with 805 career victories. He accounts for 62.4 percent of Belmont’s total victories which, at the time he retired ranked first among NCAA Division I head coaches, according to Belmont athletics. 

During his coaching career, he led the Bruins to beat notable teams such as North Carolina, Marquette University, the University of Cincinnati, Alabama University, the University of Georgia, Vanderbilt University  and the University of California, Los Angeles. He also recorded national top 25 poll votes in his last eight seasons at Belmont. 

Under Byrd, Belmont reached elite levels of consistency on the floor, winning 19 games in his final 14 seasons on the sidelines. The other teams to do so are Brigham Young University, Duke University, Gonzaga University, the University of Kansas, Louisville University, Michigan State University, North Carolina and San Diego State University, according to Belmont Athletics. 

Byrd also coached players to great success, with two of the most notable being Ian Clark and Dylan Windler. Clark won an NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2017, and Windler currently plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Windler became Belmont’s first-ever first-round selection in an NBA draft. 

“This game is really about the players, and I was so fortunate to share many remarkable moments with these great young men over the past four decades,” Byrd said in the statement. “I hope each one of them know that this recognition has his name on it as well.” 

Byrd, along with the other honorees, will be celebrated Nov. 2021 in Kansas City. The event will be part of Kansas City’s Hall of Fame Weekend. 

This article written by Ian Kayanja.

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