Texas A&M’s Blair announces retirement following 2021-22 season

Texas A&M women’s basketball head coach Gary Blair announced the 2021-22 campaign will be the final season of his Hall of Fame career. 
“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. “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. We are the defending SEC Champions and have the toughest conference schedule in the league this year. I don’t want the fans to come out to send me off. I want the 12th Man to come out and support our players and this program. They have worked extremely hard this offseason and they deserve all the love we can give them. Thank you 12th Man, I can’t wait to see you at Reed Arena this year.”
Texas A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork added, “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. 
Gary Blair is more than just a coach. Because of his good-natured personality, he is beloved in the Bryan-College Station community and beyond. Coach is amazingly kind and has never met a stranger. I know he will continue to be a presence around Aggieland for years to come. On behalf of Texas A&M Athletics, I want to congratulate Coach Gary Blair on an amazing career, and we can’t wait to watch him and his team compete for one last season. Congratulations Coach Blair!”
Blair is a member of seven halls of fame, including the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. He has amassed 838 victories, which is the 12th most in Division I history and fourth among active coaches. Since he came to Aggieland in 2003, he has led the Aggies to the 2011 NCAA Championship and won five conference titles, including the 2021 SEC regular season Championship. Blair has won a program-record 430 games and he’s nine wins away from becoming the winningest basketball coach in Texas A&M history, behind the great Dr. Shelby Metcalf, who won 438 men’s basketball games from 1963-1990. Blair has been a part of three National Championships, and has made six Final Fours, eight Elite Eights, 17 Sweet Sixteens and 30 NCAA Tournaments throughout his 41-year collegiate coaching career. He enters his final season boasting 16-straight NCAA Tournament Appearances and 20-win seasons.
A pioneer of the game, Blair was an assistant coach for the Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team from 1980-85 that won two national titles, including the inaugural NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament during the 1981-82 season. During his 36-year collegiate head-coaching career, he has totaled 35 winning seasons, 30 20-win seasons and 41 postseason victories which is fifth among active coaches.
The Dallas native’s coaching tree spans the high school and collegiate ranks as nearly 60 former players, assistants and support staff members have gone on to success after their time with Blair, including six current Division I head coaches (Kim Mulkey – LSU, Vic Schaefer – Texas, Mike Neighbors – Arkansas, Johnnie Harris – Auburn, Nell Fortner – Georgia Tech, A’Quonesia Franklin – Lamar). Blair has coached 16 Aggies that were selected in the WNBA Draft, and nearly 30 former players have enjoyed successful professional careers overseas.
Blair’s off-the-court impact has been felt in the Brazos Valley as he has helped raise $1.4 million as part of Coach Blair Charities. He has helped provide extra funding for multiple charities in the Bryan-College Station area and worked closely with Special Olympics-Texas.
Blair’s Aggies were picked by the Southeastern Conference coaches to finish second in the league and are ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press Preseason Top-25 Poll. A&M opens the 2021-22 season with an exhibition matchup against Oklahoma Baptist at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 at Reed Arena.

Story Courtesy: Brandon Collins, Athletics Communications

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