Insell, Marsalis among latest group slate for Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame induction

Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 10:31pm
Staff reports

Middle Tennessee State women’s basketball coach Rick Insell is one of 10 inductees into the 2012 class of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

The class, which also includes former Memphis State basketball coach Gene Bartow and former Tennessee State defensive back James Marsalis, will be enshrined on May 19, 2012 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville.

Insell is being honored for his 28 years as a girls basketball coach at Shelbyville Central High School. He amassed 775 victories, captured 10 state championships and two national titles.

“Most of my work had been done in the community in Shelbyville,” Insell, a Woodbury native, said. “The administration there allowed me to go across the country and play the best teams. They invested in me, Rick Insell, but also in our program. And when I came to Murfreesboro, I know that played a small part, but still the people here, I will forever be thankful to them. And I am very proud to be a part of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.”

Insell is in his seventh season at MTSU, where he has reached the NCAA Tournament five times, coached five All-Americans and had three players selected in the WNBA Draft. This will be his fourth hall of fame induction. He joins his 1991 Shelbyville Central squad, which was the first high school team to be honored.

“I am excited about it, but more than anything when you get into coaching and you take those long bus trips and clean up the gyms, you don’t think about getting into the Hall of Fame,” Insell said. “You take those different teams you have and the different championship you win, but not one time I can honestly say when I was putting a game plan together did the thought of going into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame cross my mind.”

Bartow coached for more than 40 years, bouncing around to six schools. He coached at Memphis from 1970-74, leading the Tigers to the 1973 national championship game. He also coached at Illinois and UCLA. He took over for John Wooden and led the Bruins for just two seasons before heading to UAB. He was the Blazers’ men’s basketball coach and athletic director for the next 18 years, retiring in 1996. Bartow, 81, was diagnosed with stomach cancer two years ago.

Marsalis graduated from TSU in 1969 after earning All-American honors in 1968. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round. He spent eight years in the NFL, the last two with the New Orleans Saints. He intercepted 14 passes, was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and was named the AFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Most notably, though, he was given credit for creating the bump and run” in which cornerbacks and safeties disrupted wide receivers by pushing and grabbing early in their routes.

“I am grateful to Tennessee State University, the state and the committee who thought I was worthy enough to be selected for the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame,” Marsalis said. “TSU became my second home and I thank those who helped me grow and mature, especially Coach John A. Merritt and Coach Joe B. Gilliam. I am so thankful for the many friendships I have gained because of TSU.”