Gillispie Among Finalists for Naismith National Coach of the Year

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ATLANTA, GA -- Texas A&M Coach Billy Gillispie is among the four finalists for the Naismith Award as the nation's top college basketball coach for 2006-07, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today.

Gillispie joines Tony Bennett (Washington State), Bo Ryan (Wisconsin) and John Thompson III (Georgetown) on the final ballot. The Naismith Award is the most prestigious national award presented annually to the men's and women's college basketball coaches of the year.

Finalists were chosen through a vote by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, who narrowed the mid-season list of 25 candidates down to the final four. The Board, which is comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, based its criteria on coaching performances this season. The Men's College Coach of the Year Award winner will be named at the Naismith Awards banquet April 5 in Atlanta.

"It's exciting to see new coaches come along and achieve high levels of success at these programs," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. "This display of coaching and leadership spells tremendous success for these teams."

Gillispie was named 2007 Big 12 Coach of the Year (Big 12 coaches' poll) and has led the Aggies to 26 wins - tying a school record. Under Gillispie, A&M has been ranked in the top 13 all season and in the top 10 most of the season, climbing as high as No. 6 (four times), the highest ranking in school history. The Aggies are making consecutive NCAA appearances for the first time in school history and have had three straight 20-win seasons for the first time after going 7-21(0-16 in Big 12), the year before Gillispie arrived.

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The Atlanta Tipoff Club, an Atlanta Sports Council property, is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club has presented the Naismith Trophy since UCLA's Lew Alcindor first won the award in 1969. In 1987, Indiana's Bob Knight and Tennessee's Pat Summitt became the first men's and women's college coaches, respectively, to win the award. Last year, Jay Wright (Villanova) and Sylvia Hatchell (North Carolina) were selected.

The Naismith Awards program has become an emblem of excellence for the game, recognizing the men's and women's college players, coaches and officials of the year, and the male and female high school players of the year.