After his Hall of Fame playing career at Purdue, and before he became established as a Hall of Fame coach at UCLA, John Wooden spent two seasons at Indiana State, guiding the Sycamores to a 44-15 record between 1946-48.
That, apparently, is worthy of Hall of Fame mention as well. Some 60 years later.
Thursday, the 98-year-old Wooden was one of six picked for induction into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame. He’ll be invited to the ceremony in March 2009.
Wooden, a native of Hall, Ind., was also the school’s athletic director and baseball coach during his time at Indiana State.
He actually did achieve something major while he was there:
In 1947, Indiana State was invited to play in the NAIB Tournament, but Wooden refused, citing the organization’s policy banning black players. Clarence Walker , an African American from East Chicago, Ind., was on the ISU squad.
After the NAIB changed its policy, Wooden took his team to the ’48 final, losing to Louisville with Walker on the roster.
Wooden left to UCLA in 1948, spent 27 seasons in Westwood, posted 620 wins, 10 NCAA titles … you know the rest. Except that the Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer was also inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame (1964), the Indiana State Athletics Hall of Fame (1984), the Purdue Hall of Fame (1994) and the UCLA Hall of Fame (a charter member in 1984).