Athens Review, Athens, Texas

June 7, 2012

‘Big Red’ nominated for big honor

Legendary former TVCC hoops coach makes latest cut for Texas Sports Hall of Fame

The Athens Review

ATHENS — Leon Spencer, the legendary former head men’s basketball coach at Trinity Valley Community College who retired in 2006, has been nominated for induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

Spencer served as men’s basketball coach and athletic director for more than 40 years before retiring in 2005 as the winningest coach in Texas junior college basketball (809 wins).  

Spencer’s name has been placed on a ballot with 20 other nominees. Voting members of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame selection committee will vote later this summer, with the top 6 vote-getters being inducted.

The top five vote-getters of each ballot who are not selected are automatically placed into the next year's ballot.

Spencer came to TVCC — then known as Henderson County Junior College — in 1957 on a basketball scholarship. He went on to play football for  East Texas State University (now Texas A&M-Commerce), where he was named the team’s MVP as a senior.

He returned to HCJC in 1964 as the head men’s basketball coach and assistant football coach.

Spencer said there were many highlights in his career, but the 1981-82 season stands out the most. That year, fellow Cardinal Hall of Fame inductee Stan Cloudy was on Spencer’s team and the Cards took third place at the national tournament, coming closer to a national title than any other team in Cardinals basketball history.

Other highlights in his career include the 1995 and 1999 seasons, when Spencer and the Cardinals again made national tournament appearances.

Spencer coached numerous All-American, All-Region and All-Conference players. He led the Cardinals to more than a dozen conference championships and three regional titles.

Spencer was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1996.

Information from TVCC Public Information was used in this article.

Will he get the call?

Here’s a look at the 20 sports figures who are on the primary ballot for inducted into this year’s Texas Sports Hall of Fame. The top six vote-getters will be inducted:

Trevor Brazile

Drew Brees

Dave Elmendorf

Pat Henry

Flo Hyman

Louie Kelcher

Bobby Moegle

Keith Moreland

Dat Nguyen

Catherine “Cat” Osterman

Gary Patterson

Eddy Peach

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez

Richard Quick

Nolan Richardson

Leon Spencer

Thurman Thomas

Zach Thomas

Wilson Whitley

Ricky Williams