Indiana Black Expo announced that it presented IU Head Basketball Coach Mike Woodson with the Excellence in Sports Award at the Pacers Sports and Entertainment Corporate Luncheon presented by Indiana University on Friday, July 15 at the Indiana Convention Center.
He led the Hoosiers to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2003 and helped three players earn All-Big Ten status including Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson and Xavier Johnson. His team also ended nine-game losing streaks to Purdue and Michigan and his staff landed the fifth-best recruiting class in the country according to 247Sports.
The 64-year-old was born on March 24, 1958 in Indianapolis. At Broad Ripple High School, he averaged 28.6 points as a senior, scored 1,154 points in his career, and earned All-State honors while being a member of the Indiana All-Stars. He was inducted into the IU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Mike and his wife, Terri, have two daughters, Alexis and Mariah, who were volleyball players at Georgia Tech. Alexis also played one season at IU.
Below is a full transcript of Indiana head coach Mike Woodson‘s speech at the Indiana Black Excellence Corporate Luncheon on Friday, July 15, 2022.
Vernon Williams, Communications Strategist Indiana Black Expo
One of the great things about this year’s recipients is that a lot of times awards are given for celebrity, but this year, all three not only have a celebrity status but also an extremely high level of achievement and excellence. That continues with the next honoree. I cannot conceal it, because everyone that knows me knows that I bleed Crimson ‘n Cream. I graduated from IU. I am a past president of the Neil Marshall Alumni Association. I catch as many games as I can in Bloomington. Even in the rough times, I just mute the tv and watch them. The love for IU and IU basketball is something that does not go away. The next gentleman is someone that was incredible in high school, he is one of the top scorers in Indiana University history, was a first-round draft pick of the New York Knicks and has gone onto an incredible coaching career. It has gone full circle and his is back at his alma mater. IU Nation could not be happier. He said for him this job was like a dream come true. Well, it is like a dream come true for us, too, Coach. At this time, please welcome Coach Mike Woodson.
Mike Woodson, Indiana Men’s Basketball Head Coach
First of all, let me just say that it is an honor to be back home. It truly is. Anthony Calhoun (‘Ant’) and the Black Expo Committee, I thank you. Ant had a lot to do with making this happen for me, along with the Black Expo. Forty-two years I have been away, but I have not been away. I have made my rounds back here. I have been away from the Black Expo and all of the festivities over the years that is presented to a lot of young people.
I grew up in the inner city of Indianapolis at 25th and Hillside. I took my wife a couple months ago back over there and it brought back old memories. This award is not just for me, it is for my family, it is for my wife Terri, who has been with me and by my side for 46 years. We have been married for 40 years, so we have ridden this roller coaster for quite a while. This award is a package deal. She has seen all the ups and downs and she hung right in there with me.
For me to be able to come back, circle back, after all these years … I have had a stellar career. I look at these young men that I am coaching today at Indiana University, it is not about me. It is about these young men. I like to think that 42 years ago when I left Indiana University, somebody took a chance on me. His name was Bob Knight. I turned out just fine. I figured that if I could give something back to these young men, where I can help them on and off the court. I have seen so much happen on the court where players did not take care of their responsibilities. That is something that the young men that I am coaching today, and I have coached a lot of players, I have spent over half of my life in the NBA, and have coached a lot of great, great basketball players, but it is a little different now being back in the college scene. These players are so much younger and they are looking for guidance.
Our society, and what if offers, there are a lot of things that can trip them up. It is my job as their head coach to teach and mentor them in the right direction and make sure they are doing all the right and necessary things off the court, as well as on the court, to be successful.
It is good to be back. I am the only one of 12 siblings that ever left Indianapolis. To circle back after 42 years, it is just amazing. It is like a dream come true. I never imagined coming back and fulfilling this dream. College basketball was so far removed from me. If it did open up, Indiana was the only school I would have ever coached. I would never go anywhere else. I would have been satisfied to stay in the NBA, but when this job came knocking and the A.D. (Scott Dolson) flew to New York … I made it clear that he wanted to do a Zoom over the phone, but I told him that if he was interested in Mike Woodson, you better get on a plane and come see me. He did that the next day. A three-hour interview led to one thing and here I am, back home.
Thank you again to Black Expo and all that you do. It has been tremendous over the years what black people have had the opportunity to do. It is part of our culture and there are a lot of wonderful things that are happening.
Again, I am happy to be back. Ant, I cannot say enough about you. You were the one that made the phone call and this is really the first time that I have been honored in my hometown like this. So, thank you.
Vernon Williams, Communications Strategist Indiana Black Expo
I would be remiss to not mention this about character building. If you follow IU basketball, there was a point during the season where five players had to be disciplined during a pivotal game during the season. There was no hesitancy on his part. It was more important for him to reach them as human beings than to emphasize the need to try to win a game. Even with that, they qualified for the tournament. It is not just about basketball. It is his teaching, his character building and all that goes into that. Thank you, Coach Woodson.
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