ATLANTA - - Former Belmont University men's basketball head coach Rick Byrd has been selected to the Atlantic Sun Conference Hall of Fame Class of 2021, the league office announced Friday.
The Atlantic Sun Conference Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place Monday, Oct. 18, with a virtual reception.
Byrd will join Richard Bleier (FGCU), Ben Smith (Jacksonville), Stefine Pease (Lipscomb) and Jacob deGrom (Stetson) in the Class of 2021.
This marks the latest honor for Byrd, who has been inducted in the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, NAIA Hall of Fame, Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame and will be formally enshrined into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame this November in Kansas City.
Byrd, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction candidate, systematically led Belmont to national prominence in both NCAA Division I and NAIA. He ranks 12th all-time among NCAA Division I head coaches with 805 career victories.
The Knoxville, Tennessee native led Belmont to eight NCAA Tournament appearances (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2019) and 17 conference championships (10 regular season, seven tournament) in his final 14 years, national top 25 poll votes eight of his last nine years and notable victories over the likes of North Carolina, UCLA, Marquette, Cincinnati, Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Stanford, Butler and Temple, among others.
Moreover, for programs with at least six decades of history, Byrd retired first among NCAA Division I head coaches when ranked by percentage of schools' all-time wins; accounting for a staggering 62.4 percent of Belmont's total victories.
A 14-time district or conference coach of the year, Byrd's career conference winning percentage of .797 (447-114) ranks second in NCAA Division I, behind only Mark Few of Gonzaga.
Under Byrd's leadership, the Bruin program was marked by sustained excellence, one of only nine NCAA Division I programs to win 19 or more games each of his final 14 seasons (BYU, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina and San Diego State).
Five Belmont players earned Associated Press All-America recognition (Adam Sonn, Alex Renfroe, Ian Clark, J.J. Mann, Evan Bradds). Clark won an NBA Championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2017.
But of even greater significance to Byrd, Belmont established an unparalleled standard of academic achievement among NCAA Division I programs. Since 2001, Belmont leads the nation in Academic All-America selections (18, including Luke Smith in 2021) and is the only program to rank among the nation's best every year since inception of the Academic Progress Rate (APR).
Furthermore, in the NCAA Division I era, every Belmont player who completed eligibility under Byrd's watch earned his degree, with only two scholarship student-athletes transferring out over his final 15 years.
Byrd served as NCAA Men's Basketball Rules' Committee Chairman from 2013-15, whereby sweeping measures including the reduction of the shot clock, expansion of the restricted arc for block/charge calls, and freedom of movement and pace of play were instituted.
Byrd received the 2012 NCAA Bob Frederick award for his lifelong commitment to sportsmanship, ethical conduct and fair play.
Prior to Belmont, Byrd served as head coach at Lincoln Memorial (TN) University and Maryville (TN) College.