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Character initiative, award announced in former coach Rick Byrd’s name

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Continuing his impact at Belmont University, former men’s basketball head coach Rick Byrd will have a curriculum and award named after him in honor of his leadership.

The Rick Byrd Character Formation and Leadership Program will be based on Byrd’s coaching, leadership and character philosophies, to be embedded into academic classes and co-curricular programming.

From those in the Belmont community who live out these qualities, one person will be selected for the annual Rick Byrd Character Award.

“His integrity, grace and humility — along with his dedicated and disciplined leadership approach — will provide a tremendous model for our students to explore as we develop programming that will guide them in their own character formation,” said Belmont President Greg Jones in an interview.

Following his retirement in 2019, Byrd has been recognized on the biggest college basketball stages in the nation for his dedication to the sport and its fair play.

In October 2021, the Los Angeles Athletic Club presented him as the 2022 recipient of the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award, which he will receive in April.

Along with other legends of college basketball, Byrd also got inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in November 2021.

“I think you’ve got to stick with your values, and you may not play a better talent sometimes, but you’re playing a guy who practices harder and is more unselfish and helps the team more. If that’s what you believe in, that’s what you need to do,” Byrd said during the induction ceremony.

Byrd led the Bruins to over 650 wins, 17 conference championship titles and eight NCAA tournament showings, during his 33 years at the university.

Besides having his name adorn the gameday court in the Curb Event Center, the Belmont legend will now also be honored through this program and award.

“Rick Byrd embodies the kind of character we hope our students will emulate. A consummate professional who achieved unparalleled success in his field, coach Byrd’s impact extends far beyond athletics,” said Jones.

More plans for the program and the inaugural Rick Byrd Character Award are expected.

PHOTO: Former coach Rick Byrd on the court bearing his name as the university celebrated his induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame during the men’s Saturday’s game versus Murray State. Belmont Vision / Landen Secrest.

This article was written by Jessica Mattsson.

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