Many college basketball coaches set out to have the kind of career former Belmont coach Rick Byrd enjoyed.

Byrd seemingly did it all during his 33-year career in Nashville, and on Tuesday, he learned he will add one more accomplishment to his resume after being named the recipient of the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching award. The award recognizes “the lifetime achievement of coaches who exemplify John Wooden’s high standards of coaching success and personal achievement.” 

The Wooden award committee chooses the recipient based on character, on-court success, graduating rate of student-athletes, and coaching philosophy.

"There is no coach in the history of the game of basketball that embodied excellence, integrity and humility like John Wooden," Byrd said in a release. "As a young man, I was certainly influenced by his remarkable coaching success, but even more so by his personal character and Christian commitment. 

“The examples he set have stayed with me throughout my coaching career and personal life. I am overwhelmed and grateful to be named the recipient of the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award for 2022."

The award will be presented to Byrd in April 2022 along with the Wooden Award men’s and women’s Player of the Year awards. 

Byrd was the NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1995, the Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year in 2011, a two-time ASUN Coach of the Year (2008, 2011) and a three-time OVC Coach of the Year (2013, 2017, 2019).

He was selected for the 2021 National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Class, where he’s expected to be enshrined next month, and he’s also a 2020 Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame inductee, a 2019 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction candidate and a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

During his time at Belmont, Byrd led the Bruins to 805 wins — 12th all-time among NCAA Division I head coaches — and he was also responsible for 62.4 percent of Belmont’s all-time victories as a program.

In addition, Belmont made eight NCAA Tournament appearances and won 17 conference championships (10 regular season, seven tournament) in his final 14 seasons. 

The Curb Event Center basketball court was recently named after Byrd, and the university created the Rick Byrd Endowed Scholarship as an additional way to honor him.

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_

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