The legend of Gary Blair grew even larger on Saturday as the retired Aggie coach was rewarded for a career of service to the game with a call to join the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Blair was selected to join the giants and legends of hoops after an illustrious five decades as a head coach at the high school and collegiate levels and a staunch advocate of the women's game.
Gary Blair began his coaching career at Dallas’s South Oak Cliff High School in 1973. After three state titles in four years (1977, 1978, 1980), Blair jumped to the collegiate ranks in 1980 at burgeoning women's powerhouse Louisiana Tech as an assistant under legendary head coaches Sonja Hogg and Leon Barmore. In 1985, Blair was named head coach at Stephen F. Austin. In eight seasons in Nacogdoches, Blair won seven conference titles and took the the Ladyjacks to six NCAA tournaments. The Arkansas Razorbacks came calling in 1993, and Blair spent eleven seasons in Fayetteville, going to five NCAA tournaments with a Final Four appearance in 1998.
After Blair was dismissed from Arkansas in 2003, he arrived at Texas A&M to rebuild an Aggie Women's program that hadn't had a winning season in 7 years. Gary Blair’s Aggies had a winning season in his second year and returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years during his third season. That 2006 tourney appearance would kick off a string of fifteen straight NCAA appearances. Blair and the Aggies would reach the mountaintop in 2011, winning the NCAA championship against Notre Dame in Indianapolis. Over his time as A&M, Gary Blair amassed a record of 444-184, by far the most wins and highest win percentage in Aggie women’s basketball history.
Blair retired in 2022 after 49 years of coaching basketball with a career record of 852-347 (.711) as a collegiate head coach. Texas A&M named the court at Reed Arena as “Gary Blair Court” on February 24, 2022 before Blair's final home game as the Aggie head coach. Blair was widely known in the communities where he coached for his extensive charity efforts and his relentless energy is garnering fan support for his teams.
Joining Gary Blair in this year's Naismith Hall of Fame class are Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Dwayne Wade, Pau Gasol, Becky Hammon, Gregg Popovich, Jim Valvano, Gene Keady, and Gene Bess.