April 1, 2019 / 5:24 PM / 19 days ago

Belmont's Byrd retires after 33 seasons, 805 wins

Belmont coach Rick Byrd announced his retirement Monday after 33 years, 805 wins and eight NCAA Tournament appearances at the Nashville, Tenn., school.

FILE PHOTO: Mar 21, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Belmont Bruins head coach Rick Byrd looks on during the second half against the Maryland Terrapins in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

Byrd, who turns 66 this month, took over as coach of the Bruins before the 1986-87 season. He ranks 12th all-time among NCAA Division I head coaches in wins and his career conference winning percentage (.797) trails only Mark Few of Gonzaga.

“It has been an honor to coach the young men that have brought credit to Belmont University, not only by how they played the game, but how they represented our university all over our country,” Byrd said in a statement.

Belmont was 27-6 in his final campaign in 2018-19, beating Temple in the NCAA Tournament’s First Four before ending the season with a 79-77 first-round loss to sixth-seeded Maryland.

“He has impacted countless people over his 33 years, far beyond his players and staff. We are all better off for having worked with him,” Belmont director of athletics Scott Corley said. “Coach will leave a legacy at this university that will be hard to duplicate.”

Byrd led the Bruins to 17 conference championships (10 regular season and seven tournament titles) since 2006.

Byrd was a 2019 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame nominee. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

He was fourth in longevity among the NCAA men’s basketball coaching fraternity, trailing Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Oakland’s Greg Kampe.

The school will begin its coaching search immediately, with early speculation pointing toward Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander. Alexander spent 16 seasons as Byrd’s assistant after playing four seasons for him.

—Field Level Media

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