Amaker accepts the Big House Gaines Award from Dave Goren (left), Executive Director of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association & Hall of Fame (NSSA/Sean Meyers Photography).
SALISBURY, N.C. – Harvard men's basketball head coach Tommy Amaker received the Big House Gaines College Basketball Coach of the Year award Monday night as part of the 54th annual National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association & Hall of Fame Awards Weekend.
Monday's banquet also featured the induction of ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Album to the NSSA Hall of Fame. Dan Patrick of the Dan Patrick Show and Peter King of Sports Illustrated, meanwhile, were honored as the National Sportscaster of the Year and National Sportswriter of the Year, respectively.
The Big House Gaines award, which is presented to the top minority college basketball coach in NCAA Division I and Division II, comes on the heels of one of the finest seasons in Harvard basketball history. In his sixth season at the helm, Amaker guided the Crimson to a 20-10 overall mark, a third consecutive Ivy League title and the first NCAA tournament win in program history.
Harvard, which was projected to finish second in the preseason polls, won its second straight outright Ancient Eight crown under Amaker with an 11-3 mark during the regular season to earn the second consecutive NCAA tournament berth and third in school history.
As a No. 14 seed, Amaker helped the Crimson pull the tournament's signature upset on the first day of the second round, stunning the No. 3 New Mexico Lobos, 68-62, for the first postseason victory in Harvard annals. The win also vaulted Harvard above the 20-win plateau for the fourth straight season.
Under his tutelage, sophomore Wesley Saunders and freshman Siyani Chambers were both named to the All-Ivy first team with Chambers also garnering Rookie of the Year accolades. Chambers' selection to the first team also marked the first time in Ancient Eight history that a freshman was on the first team.
During his tenure, the 1987 Duke graduate has guided the Crimson to several other program milestones including the first national rankings in school history, reaching as high as No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, the first three Ivy League titles in program annals, the four highest win totals in school history and four straight postseason tournament appearances. Amaker also holds the highest winning percentage in school history with a .629 mark.
James Stinson of Livingstone College (N.C.) was named the Division II recipient of the award.