October 29, 2021 

Gary Blair to retire from legendary career after 2021-22 season

Blair has made 30 NCAA Tournaments appearance throughout his 41-year collegiate coaching career

Texas A&M women’s basketball head coach Gary Blair will retire at the end of the 2021-22 season. The 2021 national finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award announced today that he intends to step down after his 42nd season as a collegiate coach.

“I always evaluate myself on: Am I giving everything I have, is my health good and am I still able to make an impact on young lives? I am fortunate that my health is still great, and I believe that I can still make an impact on our student-athletes and that I can give all my effort every single day,” Blair said in a statement. “However, I know that it is time for this to be my final season. Although I am excited to begin a new chapter in my life, I am even more excited to compete this year.”

Blair’s Hall of Fame career includes an assistant coach role with Louisiana Tech women’s basketball from 1980-85. His stint with La. Tech included two national titles, including the first-ever NCAA national title in 1982. Blair was head coach at Stephen F. Austin (1985-93) and Arkansas (1993-03) before taking over the Texas A&M Aggies for the 2003-04 season.

As a head coach, Blair has led his teams to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen a total of thirteen times. His teams have reached the Elite Eight four times (1998, 2008, 2011, 2014) and the Final Four twice (1998, 2011). In 2011 the Blair-led Aggies defeated Notre Dame 76-70 for the program’s first-ever national title. The legendary coach has only had one losing season in his entire head coaching career, his first season as head coach of Texas A&M.

With over four decades of coaching experience in women’s college basketball, Blair understands the moment in history during which he entered the women’s game. Title IV was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. The legislation banned sex discrimination in federally-funded education programs, including athletics. The law meant that schools were required to offer equitable opportunities to participate in sports to all genders.

“I’m part of the 70’s, I’m part of Title IV; that’s how I got my job at Dallas-South Oak Cliff [High School],” Blair said in response to a question from ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel in a retirement announcement press conference on Thursday. “I was a product of Title IV and I got the job mainly because no one else wanted it…best decision I ever made at that time was going into women’s athletics and then the best decision was in ’77 after we won a state championship they offered me the head baseball job and a coordinator in football and I turned it down to stay with the women. Best move I ever made.”

Coach Blair’s coaching tree includes greats such as Nell Fortner (current Georgia Tech coach), Mike Neighbors (current Arkansas head coach) and Vic Schaefer (current Texas head coach). Twelve of Blair’s players have been selected in the WNBA draft, including Chennedy Carter and Sydney Colson. Colson recently became among the first players to sign with Athletes United’s new women’s basketball league.

Texas A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork said in a statement, “Coach Blair is a legend in women’s basketball and college sports. He has made a transformational impact on Texas A&M University, our athletics program and all of college basketball. His decades-long championship-caliber coaching acumen and recruiting ability has transcended many generations of women’s basketball players. And his impact will be felt long after he hangs up the whistle.”

Blair will look to add to his legendary resume during the 2021-22 season. Texas A&M is ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press Preseason Top-25 Poll and was selected by SEC coaches to finish second in the conference. The Aggies tip off their season with an exhibition game against Oklahoma Baptist on Nov. 3.

Written by Tee Baker

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