ATLANTA (December 7, 2023) – C. Vivian Stringer and Bill Walton, two extraordinary figures in college basketball who were previously named Naismith Award winners for their on-court success, have been named Naismith Award honorees for their lifetime contribution to the game of basketball, the Atlanta Tipoff Club (ATOC) announced today. Stringer, the 1993 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year while at the University of Iowa, and Walton, a three-time Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy winner at UCLA (1972, 73, 74), were selected by the ATOC’s Board of Directors and will be honored during the 2024 college basketball season. Walton and Virginia’s Ralph Sampson (1981, 82, 83) are the only multi-time men’s winners of the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy.
“Each year, we select recipients who truly have impacted the lives of so many players and fans and brought the spirit of basketball to life,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “We are incredibly honored to recognize these individuals who exceled in basketball competition on the court, and then went on to devote the majority of their lives to enhancing and growing the game. It’s rare enough to win a Naismith player of the year or coach of the year award, but to accomplish that feat and then be recognized later in life for outstanding contributions to the game is truly special.”
First presented in 1982 to Curt Gowdy on the men’s side, and in 1993 to Margaret Wade for the women’s game, the Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Basketball Award is presented annually to individuals whose extraordinary efforts have made outstanding contributions and created a long‐lasting positive impact on the game of basketball. The recipients display character, integrity and dignity, and have contributed to the growth, success and viability of the sport.
About C. Vivian Stringer:
- A graduate of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania where she was a four-sport athlete, participating in basketball, softball, volleyball, and field hockey.
- Held coaching stints at the Cheyney State College, University of Iowa and Rutgers University, and became the first coach in NCAA history to lead three different women’s or men’s programs to the NCAA Final Four.
- Upon retiring in 2022 she is the fifth winningest coach in women’s college basketball history with 1,055 victories.
- Named 1993 Coach of the Year by Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Converse, the Los Angeles Times and the Black Coaches Association.
- Named the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year in 1993 while at Iowa, and a finalist for the award on five other occasions (all at Rutgers).
- Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.
- Stringer was an assistant coach for the gold-medal 2004 U.S. Olympic Team.
- In 2006, she was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
- In 2009 Stringer was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame with Michael Jordan, John Stockton, David Robinson and long-time Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
“College basketball has been my passion throughout a long and satisfying coaching career. The blessings of this coaching life have been seen in countless ways through my family and several generations of student athletes, all women who shared my love of the game and took great pride in representing their schools – – Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the University of Iowa, and Rutgers University,” Stringer said. “These same women have grown into fine professionals in their own right, including so many who have gone on to compete in professional basketball leagues. The honor of the 2024 Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Women’s Basketball award acknowledges what I have worked to achieve. I am so grateful for this special recognition and am, likewise, humbled by it. If I represent the tenets of the award, ‘character, integrity, and dignity,’ I hope that I have shared the same with my players and coaching staffs over the years. They continue to inspire and uplift me.”
About Bill Walton:
- While attending Helix High School, he became the first and only high school player to ever make the USA Senior Men’s National Basketball Team and play in the World Championship and/or Olympics.
- He is the first of only two male California basketball student-athletes to be placed into the National High School Hall of Fame.
- He was a member of two NCAA championship teams (UCLA) and three-time recipient of the NCAA Player of the Year Award and Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy (1972-1974).
- Number one overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers, where he won a championship in 1977. He won his second championship with the Boston Celtics in 1986.
- He is one of four players to win multiple NCAA and NBA Championships.
- Named Academic All-America three times and named to the Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1995.
- Is the only player in NBA History to be the league MVP, Finals MVP, and 6th Man of the Year.
- Started his broadcasting career in 1990 as an analyst for Prime Ticket Network. He also worked for CBS Sports in the early 90’s during the Final Four and then NBC, which included work at the Atlanta and Sydney Summer Olympic Games.
- NBPA Oscar Robertson Leadership Award (1991).
- Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.
- In 2001, he won an Emmy for best live sports television broadcast.
- Won the NBA Retired Player’s Association Humanitarian Award (2002).
- Regular contributor to ESPN.com, NBA.com, ESPN The Magazine, and ESPN Radio. Also, he is currently the Executive Chairman of Connect SD Sport Innovators (SDSI), which is a non-profit that promotes the growth of Southern California’s sports economy by offering innovative programs for start-ups, collaborations, and access to new technology.
“I’m honored, privileged, fortunate, grateful, and humbled to receive this most prestigious Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Men’s Basketball award on behalf of UCLA, my teammates, coaches, and our fans. So many of the previous award winners have been important and impactful in my life. I always played to win, I always tried my best, and I was lucky to play for the most successful college basketball program in the history of the sport,” Walton said. “UCLA and John Wooden gave me a chance, and a platform. I have the life I do today, because of my school, our coaches, my teammates, and our fans, and because of my wife, Lori, who also went to UCLA, many people have sacrificed their dreams and lives for me. This award represents those sacrifices, and I accept this award on behalf of them, and the disciplined and honorable lives that they have led. I only wish that I had been able to do more, and better, for them. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
ABOUT THE ATLANTA TIPOFF CLUB
Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, the most prestigious national honors in all of college and high school basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the family of Naismith Awards annually recognizes the most outstanding men’s and women’s college and high school basketball players and coaches. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the men’s and women’s college basketball defensive players of the year, as well as lifetime achievement awards to basketball officials and outstanding contributors to the game. UCLA’s Lew Alcindor received the first Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy in 1969, while the late Anne Donovan (Old Dominion) was the inaugural women’s recipient in 1983. Corporate partners of the Naismith Awards include Jersey Mike’s and Werner Ladder.
Jackson Spalding for the Atlanta Tipoff Club