Former Georgia Tech coach, athletic director going into Georgia Sports Hall of Fame together
There may be no Tech athletics program today if not for Homer Rice
Former Tech A.D. Homer Rice a Kentucky Athletics Hall of Famer.
Issue No. 146, April 26, 2012
With his retirement on May 9, 1997, after 17 years as Georgia Tech's Director of Athletics, Homer Rice closed the book on a remarkable career that spanned four decades and countless accomplishments.
Whether it was formulating his famed Triple Option Offense in the 1960s-the dominant offensive concept in football of its decade-or his Total Person Concept of the 1980s, Homer Rice has been a respected leader, builder and master motivator.
As Director of Athletics both at North Carolina and Georgia Tech, he built programs that have become models of achievement on the field and off. Rice's turnaround of Tech's athletic program during his 17-year tenure is nothing short of remarkable, but it was only the latest chapter in a storied career.
During his seven-year (1969-75) stay in Chapel Hill, Rice laid the groundwork which turned North Carolina into one of the nation's top programs, three times winning the Carmichael Cup, symbolic of athletic excellence in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In 1972, UNC was ranked the nation's top athletics program by its performance in NCAA Championships.
In a 27-year coaching career, Rice's teams were marked by wide-open, imaginative offenses, beginning with an ultra-successful stint as a high school football coach in Tennessee and Kentucky (1951-61), compiling an 11-year record of 102-9-7 (.864). He carried that same creative trademark through stays as offensive coordinator at Kentucky (1962-65) and Oklahoma (1966), and head coaching positions at Cincinnati (1967-68), Rice (1976-77) and the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals (1978-79).
Rice also served successful tours of duty as the athletics director at Rice (1976-77) and in executive management with the Bengals before accepting in April of 1980, the invitation of the late Dr. Joseph Pettit, then Tech's President, to rebuild the Rambling Wreck's sagging fortunes. At the time, it was a task many thought impossible.
A native of Ft. Thomas, Ky., Rice, was an all-state quarterback, and all-conference basketball guard and track sprint champion at Highlands High School. He also played professional baseball as a catcher in the Brooklyn Dodger organization in the 1940s. He then served during World War II as a member of the U.S. Navy.
Rice was an all-America quarterback at Centre College, where he earned an A.B. degree in 1950. He received an M.S. degree at Eastern Kentucky and the Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia Pacific University.
The Homer Rice Era at Georgia Tech
Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field 1995-Resurfaced with natural grass ($1 million); 1992-Major renovation includes addition of 32 luxury suites, new press level, President's suite and new concourses
Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center: Three major renovations since 1986 totaling nearly $20 million, including $13 million re-creation in 1996.
Arthur B. Edge Intercollegiate Athletics Center, 1982, ($7 million)
Andrew Hearn, Sr. Academic Center, opened in 1984, expanded in 1995
William C. Wardlaw Center, 1988, ($12 million)
Bill More Student Success Center, 1992, ($13 million)
Homer Rice center for Sports Performance, 1996, ($8 million). Includes George W. Mathews, Jr., Athletic Heritage Center and Howard Candler, Jr., Conference Center
New facilities for baseball, track and tennis
1990 National Championship in football
1990 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four
1994 College Baseball World Series runner-up
1993 NCAA runner-up in golf
1992 National Women's Invitation Tournament title
Football, basketball, baseball and golf teams ranked No. 1 in the nation during his tenure
Fourteen Atlantic Coast Conference team championships in football (1), basketball (3), baseball (4), golf (5) and volleyball (1)
Nine consecutive NCAA appearances in basketball from 1985-93, with five trips to the Sweet 16, including three in the 1990's
Three ACC tournament championships in basketball from 1985-97; North Carolina is the only school to win more during that period
18 players selected in the NBA draft, including nine first-round selection and four lottery picks
13 consecutive NCAA appearances in baseball
Six first-round selections in the Major League baseball draft
Two golfers named national Player of the Year in the 1990's
Three Olympic golf medalists in track and three Olympians in baseball
Four Top 10 NCAA finishes in track, including a best-ever third-place in 1997
Eleven individual NCAA track championships from 1984-97, seven in the 1990's
Three consecutive NCAA appearances in women's volleyball
Increased Georgia Tech's graduation for student-athletes
Developed and implemented the Total Person Program, which became the model for NCAA Life Skills program that is now in place at schools throughout the nation
Started Tech's women's athletics program from scratch
Raised $100 million for facilities
Increased athletics fund-raising from less than $700,000 annually to over $5 million