John Blair announces retirement as Golden Eagle volleyball coach


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech volleyball coach John Blair has announced he is stepping down from his position at the helm of the Golden Eagle program.

Blair’s retirement comes following his 10th season at the school and 29th year overall as a collegiate head coach, and wraps up a career that included Ohio Valley Conference regular season and conference championships, numerous accolades and awards for his players both on the court and in the classroom, and 381 career victories.

A national search will begin immediately to find Tech’s next head coach, according to Director of Athletics Mark Wilson.

“John Blair has been a loyal, valued member of our department for the past 10 years and he is a respected colleague,” Wilson said. “I wish him all the best in his future pursuits and thank him for his dedicated service to Tennessee Tech volleyball and the TTU Athletics Department.
   
“John is a high-quality person who works extremely hard,” Wilson added. “His student-athletes always strove for success, both in the classroom and on the court, and the results are a reflection on John’s dedication to his program and his players.”

Blair has constantly worked to develop his student-athletes, both as players and in their personal lives.

“The beauty of the job is to see them come in as freshmen and leave as young adults,” Blair said. “I thank all the players through the years for their hard work and dedication to make the program what it is. It’s an honor to have coached them, and it’s now an even greater honor to consider them my friends.

A native of Knoxville, Blair returned to his home state in 2003.

“I want to thank Diane Ledbetter-Smith, who was chief in my coming to Tennessee Tech,” he said. “Being a Tennessee native, it was a lifelong ambition to get back into my home state, and through good fortune I was able to do that.

“I want to say ‘thank you’ to all the support staff who have made these 10 seasons seem like I just got here,” Blair said. “I want to thank (University Presidents) Dr. Bell and Dr. Oldham, Mark Wilson, all the administrators and faculty, and my assistant coaches for 10 great years,” he said.

“I am confident that the administration will pursue the right person to lead this program forward in the years to come,” he said.

The third-winningest coach in program history, Blair’s players have amassed numerous awards including 12 all-OVC awards, five OVC all-tournament awards, seven all-OVC Newcomer awards, as well as an OVC Player of the Year, two Defensive Players of the Year and Newcomer of the Year awards.

Blair’s players have also excelled in the classroom as they have earned one Academic All-American and four Academic All-District awards as well as 71 OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll awards during his time at TTU.   

Blair coached at the University of Mississippi for 16 years prior to coming to Tennessee Tech. Posting the most wins in school history, Blair coached six all-Southeastern Conference players at Ole Miss. His Rebel teams earned 12 SEC tournament appearances in his 16 seasons.

In his tenure at Mississippi, he had an impressive 70 SEC Academic Honor Roll students and four earned Academic All-America Honors.

Blair served three seasons as assistant volleyball coach at the University of Tennessee. While with the Lady Vols, he helped UT capture SEC titles in 1983 and 1984.

Blair, 61, also served as head coach at the University of Illinois from 1980 through 1982, after spending one season as an assistant coach for the Illini. His 1980 Illinois team participated in the AIAW National Championship Tournament.

A native of Knoxville, Blair earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Tennessee in 1976. He played volleyball for the Volunteers under coach Bud Fields, who led the team to a ninth-place finish in the open nationals in 1976. He competed in the World University Games in 1973 and was a member of the United States training team for the Pan Am Games in 1974 and the U.S. National training team in 1975.

In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Blair coached the South men’s team to a gold medal in 1986 and a bronze medal in 1987 in the U.S. Olympic Festival and led the Texas Stars USA Volleyball team to the 1996 championship in the men’s master’s division.