Former Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletics Director David Williams named Significant Historical Achievement Award recipient; Former Belmont University men’s basketball coach, Rick Byrd to receive Pat Summitt Lifetime Achievement Award
NASHVILLE, TN – May 8, 2019 – Today, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame announced David Williams, former Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor for Athletics And University Affairs and Athletics Director, will posthumously receive the Significant Historical Achievement Award and Belmont University’s former men’s basketball coach Rick Byrd will receive the Pat Summitt Lifetime Achievement Award. Additional award winners will be honored alongside the inductees at the 2019 Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on June 15 at the Omni Nashville Hotel. From baseball to bowling and basketball, honorees from across the state were selected for their achievements both on and off the field.
“David Williams and Rick Byrd are two individuals who have built lasting legacies in the state of Tennessee through sports,” said Phillip Fulmer, University of Tennessee Director of Athletics and Chairman of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. “The Hall is excited to honor their many accomplishments along with our other award winners and inductees at the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.”
The Significant Historical Achievement Award recognizes individuals and teams who were movers and shakers in the sports industry, breaking barriers, setting records and paving the way for future sports individuals.
The Pat Summitt Lifetime Achievement Award is given to coaches who have led their teams in excellence, cultivating talent in athletes and are a shining example of mentorship and character within the sports industry.
David Williams was the first African American athletics director hired by an SEC school. He served as the Vanderbilt University Director of Athletics, Vice-Chancellor for University Affairs and Athletics. He was an advocate for social change on campus and balanced Vanderbilt’s dual task of competing in academics and athletics. Under his leadership, seven teams reached 2017-18 NCAA postseason competition. Vanderbilt also won 19 SEC titles and the football team advanced to six bowl games during his tenure. Additionally, NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate ranked 11 Vanderbilt teams with perfect 1000 APR scores while seven teams won the Public Recognition Award, ranking in the Top 10 percent nationally. “Bringing Perry Wallace home” is what Williams considered to be his greatest accomplishment at Vanderbilt. Wallace was the SEC’s first African American basketball player and Williams was instrumental in reuniting him back to Vanderbilt. Williams also hired James Franklin in 2010, the first African American coach of a major sport at Vanderbilt and only the third African American head football coach in SEC history. He was named 2017 Tennessee Tribune’s Tennessean of the Year.
Rick Byrd, Belmont University’s men’s basketball coach, announced his retirement following the 2018-2019 season after leading Belmont men’s basketball to a 27-6 record, an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament (second in OVC history) and the program’s first NCAA Tournament win in the First Four. Byrd posted an 805-401 record overall, 713-346 record (.673 winning percentage) in 33 seasons at Belmont. The Knoxville native posted 20 or more wins in 26 seasons with four of those seasons ending with more than 30 wins. He reached the NCAA Tournament eight times in 18 seasons with Division 1 conference affiliation and received postseason invitations 13 of his final 14 seasons. A 14-time District or Conference Coach of the Year and 2011 National Coach of the Year, Byrd received the 2012 NCAA Bob Frederick Award for his lifelong commitment to sportsmanship, ethical conduct, and fair play.
Additional honorees include: Professional Athlete of the Year Award winner Mookie Betts; Female Amateur Athlete of the Year Award winner Maria Bulanova; Pro Sports Team(s) of the Year Award winners Jackson Generals and Memphis Redbirds; Male Amateur Team of the Year Award winner Tennessee Tech Baseball; Female Amateur Team of the Year Award winner Vanderbilt Bowling; and Male Amateur Athlete of the Year Award winner Grant Williams.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame previously announced its nine-member 2019 Induction Class. The star-studded list of honorees includes Kippy Brown, David Cutcliffe, Charles Davis, Kara Lawson, Peyton Manning, George Taliaferro, Bob Tillman, Kimberly Anne Valek and Patrick Willis. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk will be honored as its 2019 Tennessean of the Year.
Tickets for the 2019 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony are available by contacting The Hall at 615-418-9595.
Established in 1966, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame honors figures from every sport including basketball, baseball, football, golf, soccer and track & field, along with coaches, teams, sports writers and others who made an impact.
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Notable Honorees:
Professional Athlete of the Year: Mookie Betts – Boston Red Sox Overton High School, Nashville: AL MVP; World Series champion; Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award winner; AL batting champion; 30-30 Club.
Female Amateur Athlete of the Year: Maria Bulanova – Vanderbilt University women’s bowling: NCAA Player of the Year; First Team All-American; led Vanderbilt to national runner-up finish at NCAA Championship.
Pro Sports Team of the Year: Jackson Generals – Won the 2018 Southern League Championship and the North Division Championship; overall record: 75-64.
Pro Sports Team of the Year: Memphis Redbirds – 2018 Triple-A National Championship winners; PCL Championship winners; American Conference Title and American South Division winners; overall record: 83-57.
Male Amateur Team of the Year: Tennessee Tech Baseball – 53-win school record; NCAA Regionals, first in program history; won Oxford, Mississippi Regional; ranked in all six national polls; No. 11 by Baseball America and NCBWA.
Female Amateur Team of the Year: Vanderbilt Women’s Bowling – NCAA Tournament runner-ups; produced three All-Americans, including NCAA Player of the Year.
Male Amateur Athlete of the Year: Grant Williams – University of Tennessee basketball: SEC Player of the Year; first player to consecutively win Player of the Year since 1995; Consensus first-team All-American; AP SEC Player of the Year; All-SEC; Average: 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds; Led UT to NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
About the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
Established in 1966, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame enshrines and honors athletes, teams, coaches, sports writers and sports administrators who have made an impact on the history of Tennessee sports. The Hall serves as a platform to connect athletes, coaches, sports fans, and supporters by acknowledging life achievements implemented through sports. The Hall celebrates athletes of all forms, from all across the state. Additionally, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame aspires to educate youth about the importance of healthy habits and the positive impact they have on lifestyle choices. The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is located at 501 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Tickets are $3 for adults and $2 for children and can be purchased at the Visitor Center in Bridgestone Arena, right outside of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Group rates are available for 10 or more. For more information, visit www.tshf.net.
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