Chris Brannick, Director of Sports Media Relations
OKLAHOMA CITY – Former University of Central Oklahoma coaching great David James became the first person in school history to be named to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, it was announced Tuesday during a Leadership Luncheon at the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Other members of the 2017 class of inductees are Doug Blubaugh (Oklahoma State wrestling), Bryant Reeves (OSU basketball), Jason White (Oklahoma football), Jeff Bennett (Oklahoma Christian track and field), Bill Greason (baseball) and Bill Krisher (Oklahoma football). Formal induction is set for Aug. 14 at the Riverwind Casino Showplace Theatre.
“I’m very humbled and honored,” said James, who spent 34 years as UCO’s head wrestling coach following a stellar four-year career as a competitor for the Bronchos. “It’s overwhelming to become part of such an elite group and I’m very appreciative. I was blessed to work with outstanding wrestlers and coaches throughout my career and I share this honor with everybody who was a part of our program.
“I couldn’t have coached as long as I did without the incredible support of my wife (Cherrie) and our two girls (Hayden and Ryann). They put up with a lot over the years and I wouldn’t have been able to coach as long as I did without their love and encouragement.”
James was UCO’s head coach from 1982-2016, leading the Bronchos to 12 national championships – second-most among all college coaches at any level — and racking up a 396-144-5 dual record during an amazing 34-year career. He ranks 40th on all levels of college wrestling in dual wins.
UCO captured NAIA national titles in 1984, ’85, ’86, ’87 and ’89 and NCAA Division II crowns in 1992, ’93, ’94, ’95, ’02, ’03 and ’07 under James’ tutelage, earning him National Coach of the Year honors seven times.
James coached 48 individual national champions and 182 All-Americans at UCO while guiding the Bronchos to 19 regional titles and 24 top-four national tournament finishes, including five runner-up showings.
A Del City native, James became UCO’s first four-time All-American during his career with the Bronchos from 1976-80. He finished third as a freshman and second as a sophomore before winning back-to-back NAIA national titles his final two years and finished with a 116-16 record.
It will be the sixth hall of fame induction for James, who is also a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame (1988), the UCO Athletic Hall of Fame (1991), the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame (2005), the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (2007) and the Del City High School Hall of Fame (2008).
The Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1986, with 160 individuals and teams now enshrined. UCO cross country head coach J.D. Martin was inducted in 2005 after serving as OU’s track and field/cross country coach for 33 years before retiring and then later coming to Central.