Dr. James Naismith Named to the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame
Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball and Kansas’ first men’s basketball coach, was one of eight named to the 24th Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Hall of Fame Class of 2021, the league announced Thursday.
There will be no in-person recognition for this year’s MVC Hall of Fame Class, and the class is comprised of only Veteran’s Committee selections, which include worthy candidates from former MVC member institutions. Kansas was a member of the Missouri Valley from 1907 until 1928 before moving to the Big Six Conference.
Naismith, who wrote the original 13 rules of this sport in 1891, was a professor and university physician at Kansas from 1909–1917. He then served as athletic director at KU from 1919 until 1937.
A native of Ontario, Canada, Naismith founded the Kansas basketball program and served as its first coach (from 1898-1907). Before the formation of the MVC in 1907, Naismith coached Phog Allen, who later became the coach at Kansas for 39 seasons, beginning a lengthy and prestigious coaching tree. Allen then went on to coach legends including Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith, among others, who themselves coached many notable players and future coaches.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., is named in his honor, and he was an inaugural inductee in 1959. His honors include a host of Hall of Fame inductions, including the FIBA Hall of Fame, the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, the McGill University Sports Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma State Sports Hall of Fame, the College Basketball Hall of Fame, and now the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame. Naismith passed away at the age of 78 in 1939.
Naismith is inducted into the MVC Hall of Fame as an administrator and joining him in the 2021 class is Maurice Cheeks, West Texas (MBB), Joe Greene, North Texas (FB), Clark Hetherington, Missouri (Admin.), Tara Oltman, Creighton (SB), Morgan Taylor, Grinnell (FB/Track), Tom Thacker, Cincinnati (MBB) and Connie Yori, Creighton (WBB).