College Sports

McKendree coach nominated for Naismith Hall of Fame

McKendree University men’s basketball coach Harry Statham, the all-time wins leader in college basketball history, is among the eligible candidates for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
McKendree University men’s basketball coach Harry Statham, the all-time wins leader in college basketball history, is among the eligible candidates for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. McKendree University

McKendree University men’s basketball coach Harry Statham, the all-time wins leader in college basketball history, is among the eligible candidates for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The complete list of eligible candidates for the Class of 2017 was announced Wednesday afternoon.

Statham, in his 51st season as the coach at his alma mater, became the all-time wins leader in four-year college basketball history – at any level, men’s or women’s – last Feb. 6 when McKendree defeated Maryville University 92-84 in St. Louis. That victory was No. 1,099 in Statham’s career, which pushed him past the late Pat Summitt for the record.

Statham stretched his career win total to 1,106 in the Bearcats’ 119-92 home victory over Salem International University on Dec. 14.

“Obviously, I am overwhelmed to be nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” Statham said in a statement released by the university. “Coaching basketball is a labor of love for me. We have been successful because of our players. I am extremely proud of the high character and quality people who play for us at McKendree.”

On Nov. 13, 2009, Statham led McKendree to a 79-49 win over East-West University, which marked career victory No. 1,000. He became the first men’s college basketball coach to reach the 1,000-win mark, and is one of just four men’s coaches currently in the exclusive club.

Statham has been the all-time leader in victories in men’s four-year college basketball history since Dec. 1, 2004, when he collected win No. 880 to surpass the late Dean Smith, who held the record at the time.

In addition to holding the all-time wins record, Statham has coached in more games than anyone in college basketball history. Through the Salem International contest, Statham has been on the sidelines for 1,590 games in his career, all at McKendree.

Statham has guided the Bearcats to the postseason 41 times. McKendree made 15 appearances at the NAIA Division I Tournament prior to the program’s transition to NCAA Division II membership in 2013.

Among those 15 appearances was a run to the NAIA semifinals in 2003 as well as quarterfinal appearances in 1997 and 2009. The Bearcats won 12 American Midwest Conference championships under Statham.

An eight-time conference Coach of the Year recipient, Statham was named the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year following the 2001-02 season.

“We are proud to learn of Coach Statham’s eligibility for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” McKendree Athletics Director Chuck Brueggemann said in a statement. “Harry has had a positive impact on the many student-athletes he has coached at McKendree, and his accomplishments in the coaching arena only begin to reflect a small portion of that impact. He has always been, and continues to be, a great ambassador for McKendree University and the game of college basketball.”

For the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Statham is among a group of first-time nominees that includes former Mount Saint Mary’s coach Jim Phelan – who held the games-coached record until Statham surpassed the mark in 2013 – as well as current Kansas and former Illinois coach Bill Self.

Former NBA standouts Tracy McGrady and Muggsy Bogues are also part of the Hall of Fame eligibility list for the first time.

A press conference announcing the finalists from the North American and Women’s committees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will be held at NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 18 in New Orleans. The entire Class of 2017 will be unveiled April 3 at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Phoenix.

Enshrinement activities will take place in early September in Springfield, Mass.

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