PHOENIX, AZ — Towson’s Pat Skerry is the recipient of the 2017 Gene Bartow award.
In six years, Skerry has revitalized the Towson men’s basketball program, leading the Tigers to unprecedented consistent success in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Four years ago he and TCU assistant Tom Herrion started Coaches Powering Forwards, an autism awareness weekend each season in college basketball where hundreds of coaches and media members wear a blue pin on their lapel.
In the 2016-17 season more than 400 people participated, across all levels of basketball.
Skerry and Herrion have been good friends for years and each has a son on the autism spectrum.
“Pat Skerry truly is truly one of the best people in the business,” said CollegeInsider.com’s Angela Lento. “No matter how much he accomplishes as a coach, and he has done a lot at Towson, it will never compare to the work he has done to bring awareness to autism.”
The Tigers finished third in the CAA, recording their third 20-win season in the last four years. Skerry has engineered a remarkable turnaround. After enduring a 1-31 record in his first season, he’s led Towson to a 93-75 record the last five seasons, including a 54-35 mark in the CAA
The Gene Bartow award recognizes outstanding achievement and contributions to the game.
Bartow spent 36 years as a head coach, posting a 647-353 record. He led Memphis State to the 1973 NCAA championship game, losing to UCLA in St. Louis, the last in the Bruinsí streak of seven straight titles. After leaving Memphis to coach at the University of Illinois, Bartow succeeded legendary UCLA coach John Wooden at UCLA in 1975. In two seasons at UCLA, Bartowís Bruins had a 52-9 won-lost record and reached the 1976 NCAA Final Four.
Then, following the 1976-77 season, Bartow departed UCLA to start a basketball program at the University of Alabama Birmingham as both head coach and director of athletics. He served at UAB for 18 years, leading the Blazers to the National Invitation Tournament in the program’s second year of existence. Overall, he guided UAB to seven straight NCAA tournament berths, reaching the Sweet 16 in 1981 and the Elite Eight in 1982.
While at UAB, Bartow became the winningest coach in Sun Belt Conference history with 111 career Sun Belt wins. In 2005 Bartow was honored as the all-time Sun Belt Menís Basketball Coach during the leagueís celebration of its 30th anniversary.
In 1996, Bartow retired from coaching and UAB honored him by naming its basketball facility Bartow Arena the following year. Most recently, the 81-year old Bartow was the president of Hoops LP, the parent company of the NBAís Memphis Grizzlies and the FedEx Forum.