John McLendon Elected to Basketball Hall of Fame for Second Time

HOUSTON – University of Kansas graduate John McLendon was named to the 10-person Class of 2016 for enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Hall announced Monday.
Already enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a “Contributor” in 1978, McLendon will now be enshrined as a coach.  He is joined in the 2016 class by: Darell Garretson (27-year referee), Allen Iverson (11-time NBA All-Star), Tom Izzo (two-time NABC Coach of the Year), Shaquille O’Neal (three-time NBA Finals MVP) and Sheryl Swoopes (four-time WNBA Champion). Additionally, four other inductees were selected by committees which include Zelmo Beaty (Veterans Committee), Yao Ming (International Committee), Cumberland Posey (Early African American Pioneers Committee) and Jerry Reinsdorf (Contributor Committee).
McClendon is being recognized as the first African-American coach in a professional league. The Class of 2016 will be inducted at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Sept 9.
A native of Hiawatha, Kansas, McLendon in 1936 became the first African-American to graduate from KU with a bachelor’s degree in physical education before turning to coaching. McLendon was mentored by Dr. James Naismith and insisted that basketball be played at a fast-break pace offensively and defensively, a practice that still exists in today’s game.
McLendon was the first coach to win three consecutive national championships, leading Tennessee State to NAIA National Championships in 1957, 1958 and 1959. He compiled a collegiate coaching record of 522-165 (.760), and was named NAIA Coach of the Year in 1958. He was the first African-American coach to accomplish many feats, including winning a national tournament (1954), winning a national championship (1957) and winning an AAU national championship (1961). He was the first African-American coach to coach in a professional league, the ABL (Cleveland), and would later coach in the ABA (Denver).
McLendon died Oct. 8, 1999, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He was 84. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.