May 19, 2011
NEW YORK - At a gala event on Wednesday evening, May 18, Texas A&M women's basketball coach Gary Blair and the University of Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun were presented with the New York Athletic Club's Winged Foot Award. The Award was established in 1996 by the NYAC and is presented annually to the winning coaches of the men's and women's NCAA Division I Basketball Tournaments.
The function, hosted at the NYAC's City House in mid-town Manhattan, saw close to 300 people in attendance, including dignitaries and alumni from both schools. The evening featured a cocktail reception, dinner, speeches and the presentation of the Awards. Celebrated sportscaster, Billy Packer, MC'd the ceremonies, as he has done since the Award's inception.
Coach Blair earned the NCAA title and the 2011 women's Winged Foot Award after his team scored a thrilling win over Notre Dame in Indianapolis. Although he had brought his teams to postseason play no fewer than 22 times in his 26 years as a collegiate head coach, 2011 was his first appearance in the winner's circle. Moreover, this was the first NCAA basketball title in A&M history.
Coach Calhoun claimed the 2011 men's Winged Foot Award by virtue of his team's victory over Butler in the Championship game in Houston. He also guided his teams to the title in 1999 and 2004, thus becoming the first ever three-time winner of the Winged Foot Award.
"It was a great honor to welcome Gary Blair and Jim Calhoun to the New York Athletic Club and to present them with the Winged Foot Award," stated James W. O'Brien, Chairman of the Winged Foot Award Committee. "Not only are they world class coaches and mentors, they are also world class people."
On behalf of Coaches Blair and Calhoun, the NYAC made a donation to Coaches vs. Cancer, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches that empowers basketball coaches, their teams and local communities to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
The Winged Foot Award came into being in the mid-1990s when the New York Athletic Club, an iconic presence in the world of amateur sport, noted that there was no official award to honor the head coaches of the victorious NCAA men's and women's basketball teams. The Club presented the first men's trophy to Rick Pitino in 1996 and followed that with the women's Award, presented to Carolyn Peck in 1999.
About the NYAC
A private club founded in 1868, the New York Athletic Club is among the world's most accomplished sporting institutions, sponsoring world class teams in track and field, rowing, judo, wrestling, fencing and water polo, among others. The NYAC's headquarters at 59th Street and 7th Avenue in New York City and at Travers Island in Pelham Manor, NY, include top class sporting facilities. At the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, the NYAC's 40 representatives won 16 medals.