Gary Blair, a two-time national finalist for the prestigious Naismith Coach of the Year Award, has brought instant respect to the Texas A&M women's basketball program ever since his appointment in 2003.
One of the winningest active Division I coaches in the women's game today, Blair has guided Texas A&M to a program-best No. 1 ranking in the national polls and a school-record seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances, which included a historic run to the program's first national championship in 2011. Blair led the Aggies to their first national title in their first-ever trip to the NCAA Women's Final Four and closed out the season with a 33-5 record, the most victories in program history.
Blair produced the program's first true All-American in Danielle Adams. She was a first-team honoree by the Associated Press, State Farm and the USBWA in addition to being selected a finalist for such prestigious awards as the Naismith Trophy, the John R. Wooden Award and the Wade Trophy. Adams was drafted by the WNBA is in her second season with the San Antonio Silver Stars.
With Blair at the helm, Texas A&M's rise to the top has included advancing to at least the NCAA Sweet 16 four of the last five years, earning a trip to the Elite Eight in 2008, and winning the program's first national title in 2011. The Aggies are one of just seven teams to have reached the regional semifinals four of the last five seasons. In addition, Texas A&M was designated a No. 3 seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament and is one of only four elite programs to be selected a No. 4 seed or higher each of the last six years. The Aggies captured their first Big 12 Conference Championship in 2007 and continued with postseason championship titles in 2008 and 2010 for three overall league crowns in the last six years.
Most notably, Blair is one of only three all-time NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches to lead two different teams to the NCAA Women's Final Four (Texas A&M and Arkansas). He currently ranks in the top 15 in career victories and in the top 25 by winning percentage among active Division I coaches with an impressive 620-253 overall record (.710).
Blair became the all-time winningest women's basketball coach in Texas A&M history with an 84-53 victory over Portland State in the NCAA First Round on March 20, 2010, to surpass 154 career victories compiled by former head coach Lynn Hickey from 1984-1994. The 2007 Big 12 Coach of the Year claimed his 600th career coaching victory against Mississippi State on Nov. 20, 2011, to become the 22nd all-time NCAA Division I coach to reach the milestone. He also holds the distinction of being one of only six coaches in NCAA history to take three schools to the NCAA Tournament.
Over the course of his 27-year collegiate coaching career, which includes stops at Stephen F. Austin from 1985-93 and Arkansas from 1993-03, Blair has led his teams to 26 winning seasons, 21 20-win seasons, 18 NCAA Tournament appearances and 29 NCAA postseason victories. Blair has won a championship at every level of his coaching career including three state championships at Dallas South Oak Cliff High School, two national championships as an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech, a WNIT Championship at Arkansas and a national championship at Texas A&M.
Blair previously led the Lady Razorbacks to the 1998 NCAA Final Four and the Lady Jacks to four NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. He has followed that path of success by elevating Texas A&M into one of the nation's elite programs where he has put together a 212-90 record (.702) after nine seasons in Aggieland, including seven consecutive 20-win campaigns since 2005. What's more is A&M has registered an unprecedented 96-10 (.906) overall success rate at Reed Arena over the last seven years.
Under Blair's tutelage, many players have seen success on the hard court after their time at Texas A&M. Eight players over the last five years alone have been drafted into the WNBA. In 2012, Tyra White and Sydney Carter closed out their storied A&M careers by being selected in the WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky and the Los Angeles Sparks respectively. It marked the third time that Texas A&M had two players selected in a WNBA Draft. Next to Sydney Colson (2011) and Danielle Gant (2009), White became the third A&M player to be taken with the 16th overall pick - the highest selection for any Aggie in a WNBA Draft.
One of the most active and involved coaches in the Bryan-College Station community, Blair is a frequent and charismatic speaker at the local Rotary Club as well as other civic and student groups throughout the year. He also hosts the annual Gary Blair Celebrity Golf Classic that benefits Special Olympics Texas. A marketing and public relations guru, Blair has increased awareness about his program and boosted both attendance and season tickets sales at Reed Arena by over 300 percent due to his one-on-one approach.
Blair is a member of four Hall of Fame classes including induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2011, the Southland Conference Hall of Honor in 2009, the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjack Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. He was also honored with the 2011 New York Athletic Club's Winged Foot Award, which is presented annually to the winning coaches of the men's and women's NCAA Division I Basketball Championships.
A 1963 graduate of Dallas' Bryan Adams High School, Blair was an all-city baseball player. After a tour in the U.S. Marine Corps, he earned his bachelor's degree in health and physical education with a minor in journalism from Texas Tech in 1972. He completed his master's degree in education in 1974 and also played a season of baseball for the Red Raiders.
Blair's wife, Dr. Nan Smith-Blair, is the director of nursing at the University of Arkansas. The couple has two children, Paige and Matt, and two grandchildren, Logan and Lola. Paige owns a children's boutique in Fayetteville, Ark., and is married to Beau Thompson, head boys' basketball coach at Farmington High School in Farmington, Ark. Matt is a volunteer coach for the UALR women's soccer program and is currently working towards his master's degree at UALR.
THE BLAIR FILE
COACH BLAIR INSIDE THE NUMBERS
COACH BLAIR COACHING RESUME