After 33 years as head coach of the Belmont men’s basketball team, Rick Byrd announced his retirement on Monday morning.
“It has been my privilege to work with, and for, a remarkable community of men and women at Belmont University,” Byrd said in a press release.
The announcement follows the end of a historic season for Byrd and Belmont. In March, the program earned its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and then Byrd and the Bruins won their first NCAA Tournament game in program history.
While this season was a significant one for the Bruins, it was just the pinnacle of a successful career for Byrd.
With 805 career victories, Byrd ranks 12th in all-time NCAA Division I. He is also a 2019 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction candidate and a Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Inductee.
“I am deeply grateful for his life of service to Belmont University and his influence in shaping the lives of so many along the way,” said university President Dr. Robert Fisher. “He’s simply the best!”
Director of Athletics Scott Corley, the first player Byrd recruited at Belmont, reiterated Byrd’s impact on the university.
“He has impacted countless people over his 33 years, far beyond his players and staff,” Corley said. “Coach will leave a legacy at this university that will be hard to duplicate. I feel blessed to call him my coach, my colleague and my friend.”
Under Byrd’s leadership, five Belmont players earned Associated Press All-American recognition: Ian Clark, Adam Sonn, Alex Renfroe, J.J. Mann and Evan Bradds.
His team has held a team GPA of 3.0 or higher for 18 consecutive years. The last three Belmont made the NCAA Tournament, the team also won the Academic National Championship on the Inside Higher Ed website.
Byrd attributes much of his success to his family and network of support.
“I have been the beneficiary of a very supportive family that I could count on every single day, a loyal circle of friends who consistently offered encouragement and a terrific fan base that has embraced our program and our players for over three decades,” Byrd said. “For this, I am forever grateful.”
This article written by Joe Bendekovic and Bronte Lebo.