Austin Clark enters the Baylor Sports Hall of Fame a few months before beginning his 36th season as the head basketball coach at Baylor, a tenure that currently ranks second among head coaches in Baylor’s history. Only Hall of Fame baseball coach Gene Etter, who retired after 41 years, served longer as a head coach. And Clark, at the time of his induction, shows no signs of hanging up the red “B” blazer that has become his trademark wardrobe for every McCallie game in the last four decades.
Clark also served as Baylor’s athletic director from 1990-2006, presiding over a 16-year span period in which Baylor teams won 102 state championships. During his tenure, Sports Illustrated magazine named Baylor’s athletic program the best in Tennessee and number 23 in the nation.
Since Clark’s arrival on the campus in 1982, his brand of basketball – tireless tenacity on defense and patient execution on offense – has been admired by fans and dreaded by opponents in every part of the state. His reputation for fielding tough, competitive teams is widespread and well-earned; his integrity and sportsmanship have never been questioned. As head basketball coach and athletic director, Clark has always emphasized building of character over the importance of winning. “People may not know that I care a lot more about the young men that play for me than I do about wins or losses,” Clark told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2008. “I’ve never put much stock in records. To me, success is looking ten years down the road and seeing a kid that played for me doing well in life.”
That is not to say that Clark’s record is anything but impressive. By the end of his 35th season, Coach Clark had 503 wins under his belt. Before Baylor entered the TSSAA’s Division II for private schools, Clark’s team won four district championships, made 12 appearances in region tournaments, reached the sub-state in 1990, and made the State Final Four in 1987. Since joining Division II, Clark has led Baylor teams to the state quarterfinals 13 times, the state semifinals four times, and to the championship game where the Raiders finished as state runner-up in 2002.
Clark has been named Chattanooga’s Coach of the Year six times, won the Scrappy Moore Basketball Award in 1987, and has been a recipient of the TSSAA Distinguished Service Award. In 1993, Chattanooga Mayor Gene Roberts awarded Coach Clark a key to the city and a certificate for “Outstanding Contributions to the City of Chattanooga.”
Clark and his wife, Cindy, are the parents of Logan Simmons ‘05 and Jordan ’09.