Former Memphis women’s basketball coach named to Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame

Former Memphis women’s basketball coach named to Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
Mary Lou Johns, former Memphis women's basketball coach announced as a 2021 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame inductee (Source: WMC)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Friday, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame committee announced one of its picks for the 2021 Inductee of the Hall of Famers.

Former Memphis women’s basketball coach, Mary Lou Johns, was chosen as this year’s inductee due to her resume of historical winnings.

Johns led the Tigers to two Metro Conference Championships in 1982 and 1985 and three NCAA Tournament appearances in 1982, 1985 and 1987 along with a NWIT runner-up finish in 1983.

She had 15 winning seasons from 1972-73 to 1986-87, including 10 seasons of 20 wins or more.

She was even named the Metro Conference Coach of the Year in 1984, 1986 and 1987.

“Obviously, I’m very honored. Surprised,” said Johns. “Wonder if I really belong in this role with so many other wonderful people. Like I’ve said many times before, to other coaches and players, you obtain a lot. You don’t do it on your own. You obtain it through your players, your coaches, your administrators. Everybody that you put yourself around during your life, and I’ve had a wonderful life.”

Johns earned Memphis’ first NCAA Tournament win when third-seeded Memphis defeated sixth-seeded Ole Miss 72-70 in front of a sold-out Elma Roane Fieldhouse on March 12, 1982, to reach the Mideast Region Sweet 16 in Knoxville.

Johns coached five Tigers who had their jerseys retired by the University of Memphis including No. 12 Kim Duppins, No. 14 Linda Street, No. 31 Betty Booker, No. 50 Regina Street and No. 51 Linda McKinnie.

Memphis was ranked for 40 weeks from 1977-1985 while the 1981-82 Tigers were ranked No. 10 for two weeks, the highest national ranking in program history.

Johns led the Memphis women’s basketball program through the transition from AIAW to the NCAA in 1981-82. Johns helped the Tigers move into a conference – the Metro Conference – for the first time in program history that same season.

A 1964 graduate of then-Memphis State University, Johns was a member of the women’s basketball, volleyball, tennis and badminton teams.

She was inducted into the University of Memphis Athletics M Club Hall of Fame in 1996.

Johns joins Memphis native and U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone, former MTSU defensive standout Mike Caldwell, ETSU Basketball great Tommy Woods, Vanderbilt women’s basketball trailblazer Cathy Bender, and wheelchair basketball champion and Jackson native Brandon Rowland as announced inductees of the Class of 2021. The full class of 11 will be announced over the coming weeks.

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