Tom Blackburn (basketball)

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Tom Blackburn
Tom Blackburn.jpg
Blackburn from the 1956 Daytonian
Biographical details
Born(1906-01-23)January 23, 1906
Peebles, Ohio
DiedMarch 6, 1964(1964-03-06) (aged 58)
Dayton, Ohio
Alma mater Wilmington College
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1947–1964 Dayton
Head coaching record
Tournaments1–1 (NCAA)
20–10 (NIT)
Accomplishments and honors
NIT (1962)

Leonard Thomas Blackburn (January 23, 1906 – March 6, 1964) was an American basketball coach. The Peebles, Ohio native served as head men's basketball coach at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, from 1947 until his death in 1964. He led the Dayton Flyers to a championship at the 1962 National Invitation Tournament.


Early life

Blackburn was born in 1906. He was employed as a steelworker for two years before enrolling at Wilmington College where he played football, basketball and baseball. After graduation, he coached high school basketball for four years at West Carrollton, Ohio and eight seasons at Xenia, Ohio Central High School, where six of his eight teams won championships, including the state title in 1942.

In World War II, Blackburn joined the Navy physical education program at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. After the war, he became a golf pro in North Carolina.

Head coaching career

Blackburn became Dayton's first full-time basketball coach in 1947, inheriting a moribund team that had won seven total games over the previous two seasons. Blackburn's insistence on strict discipline within his program helped lift Dayton to national prominence in the following years. Blackburn's second team finished with a winning record and was invited to the National Catholic Invitational post-season tournament. Two years later, Blackburn's Flyers would receive the first of 10 NIT invitations. Blackburn established Dayton as a national college basketball powerhouse through the 1950s and early 1960s, advancing to the NIT Finals six times in what at the time was regarded as the more prestigious post season college basketball tournament. [1] Blackburn had a 352–141 record (.714) in 17 seasons as the Flyers head coach, held a 22–12 record (.647) in postseason play, and won an NIT championship in 1962. Blackburn fell ill with cancer during the 1963–64 season, but coached the Flyers through all but the final three games before stepping down. Assistant coach Don Donoher served as interim coach for the rest of the season, though Dayton credits the entire season to Blackburn. Blackburn died on March 6, 1964, eight days after his last game on the Flyers bench. [2]

Awards and recognition

The University of Dayton inducted Blackburn into its Athletics Hall of Fame in 1969, and named the playing court at the University of Dayton Arena after their former coach. The winner of the annual Dayton-Xavier basketball game is awarded the Blackburn/McCafferty Trophy, named for the two former basketball coaches at each university.

Head coaching record

Statistics overview
Dayton Flyers (NCAA University Division independent)(1947–1964)
1947–48 Dayton 12–14
1948–49 Dayton 16–14
1949–50 Dayton 24–8
1950–51 Dayton 27–5 NIT Runner-up
1951–52 Dayton 28–5 NCAA Regional Third Place, NIT Runner-up
1952–53 Dayton 16–13
1953–54 Dayton 25–7 NIT Quarterfinal
1954–55 Dayton 25–4 NIT Runner-up
1955–56 Dayton 25–4 NIT Runner-up
1956–57 Dayton 19–9 NIT Quarterfinal
1957–58 Dayton 25–4 NIT Runner-up
1958–59 Dayton 14–12
1959–60 Dayton 21–7 NIT Quarterfinal
1960–61 Dayton 20–9 NIT Fourth Place
1961–62 Dayton 24–6 NIT Champion
1962–63 Dayton 16–10
1963–64 Dayton 15–10
Dayton:352–141 (.714)
Total:352–141 (.714)

      National champion        Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion        Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion      Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

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  1. "CBS Sports - News, Live Scores, Schedules, Fantasy Games, Video and more".
  2. "Tom Blackburn is Dead at 58; Coached Basketball at Dayton", The New York Times , March 7, 1964, page 23.