The forthcoming end of an era was signaled today when Aggie Women’s Basketball Coach Gary Blair announced that he will be retiring at the end of the upcoming season. Blair took the reins of the Texas A&M women’s program in 2003 and elevated the team to national prominence over the course of the last 18 years. During his time in College Station, he led the Aggies to the 2011 national championship, has won three conference titles (two Big XII, one SEC) and has made the NCAA tournament every year since the 2005-2006 season.
Blair’s coaching career spans five decades, beginning as the head coach of South Oak Cliff High School in 1973 where he won three state titles. He then moved into the college ranks, serving as an assistant at Louisiana Tech under legendary head coaches Sonja Hogg and Leon Barmore. Blair was named the head coach of Stephen F. Austin in 1985 and won six consecutive Southland Conference championships in his time at SFA. He moved on to Arkansas in 1993 and would lead the Lady Razorbacks to five NCAA tournaments in 10 seasons, featuring a Final Four appearance in 1998.
There will be a fair amount of speculation as to who will succeed Blair as the head coach. Blair’s coaching tree includes 6 current NCAA head coaches as well as a stable of assistants who are considered amongst the best in the game. The Texas A&M job is certain to be considered one of the best jobs in the country, largely based on the strength of Blair's foundation. The SEC is one of the premier conferences in women's basketball, Texas A&M is a perennial conference contender, and home attendance regularly ranks in the top 20 nationally.
Blair is known as one of the most friendly and outspoken personalities in women’s college basketball. He has been a staple in the Bryan-College Station community through his charity work and his efforts to draw fans to the women’s games. Coach Blair has been a tireless advocate for women’s basketball in general and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. The coming season will almost certainly include numerous tributes to Blair from Texas A&M, rival schools, and local and national media. It will also be a season of exciting basketball, as the Aggies were selected 2nd in the SEC coaches poll and open the year at No. 23 in the national rankings.