Centre names court after Bryant

October 12, 2004

In a sense, the basketball floor at Centre College has been Tom Bryant's court for years. And now it's official.

The new floor in Centre's Alumni Gymnasium has been named Tom Bryant Court in honor of the former men's basketball coach and athletic director, the winningest coach in school history.

Bryant, who retired as coach in 1996, said he was taken by surprise when he was told of the honor recently.

"It took me be complete surprise," Bryant said. "When they told me they wanted to do this, it took me aback for a minute or two."


"When you're honored by your own people, it's a good thing."

Shawn Lyons, Centre's associate vice president for development and alumni affairs, who along with athletic director Brian Chafin broke the news to Bryant, said the school plans a dedication ceremony for Dec. 3, the date of the men's basketball home opener.

Lyons said the event will include a reception that will be open to the public, and he said many of those who played for Bryant will be invited.

Bryant won 389 games and 15 conference championships as Centre's coach from 1968-96.

"This is an appropriate honor for Tom Bryant," Chafin said in a news release issued by the school. "He rejuvenated the men's basketball program at Centre and left a strong legacy."

Current men's basketball coach Greg Mason, one of those who played for Bryant, said he is thrilled for his former coach.

"To have your name on the floor is the ultimate honor for a coach," said Mason, a 1994 Centre graduate. "Coach Bryant built a very successful program at Centre, and I know he's very touched by this. As a former player of coach Bryant's, there is a great sense of pride in the accomplishments (he) and his teams achieved."

Bryant led Centre to the NCAA Division III Final Four twice, in 1979 and 1989 and to nine appearances in the Division III tournament, including seven straight from 1983-89.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches named Bryant the South District Coach of the Year eight times. He was named an honorary member of the Centre Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, and he is also a member of the Miami University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Ohio Coaches Hall of Fame.

Bryant, who played for three conference championship teams at Miami and came to Centre after coaching stints at three Ohio high schools, said many of his fondest memories were of games in Alumni Gymnasium.

"We had some big games in there," Bryant said. "It's something that you have to look back on, you've got your memories of the number of championships that we won in that building."

Centre's home court at the Sutcliffe Athletic Center was renovated this summer as part of a $22 million expansion and renovation project known as The College Centre. The entire project is scheduled to be complete in spring 2005, but the gymnasium will be ready for the coming basketball season.

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