Tommy Woods, the first African-American basketball player at East Tennessee State University, is a 2021 Inductee of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
Woods was told of his inclusion Monday during a surprise meeting with ETSU Athletics Director Scott Carter, the Voice of the Bucs Jay Sandos, and Brad Willis, Executive Director of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Tommy Woods played for the Buccaneers from 1963-1967, after prepping at Hall High School in Alcoa. Woods was not only the first African-American player at ETSU, but the first African-American player at a non African-American Tennessee public institution.
As a freshman in 1963, Woods was subject to catcalls, bigotry, and discrimination, but by his senior season at ETSU, Woods was a beloved figure and a transcendent athlete. Woods was named All-OVC in 1966 and 1967, and still holds records for rebounds (1034), rebounds per game average (10.2), and single game rebounds (38).
After an injury-shortened career with the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels, Woods entered a life of public service in Louisville. For over 30 years, Woods was a probation officer for troubled youth, and upon retirement, he served as the Athletic Director of the Louisville Police Department Athletic Programs, and after a second retirement, he is now a special assistant to the Mayor of Louisville.
“Tommy Woods is a shining example of what makes up a Tennessee Sports Hall of Famer,” said Brad Willis, Executive Director of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. “His contributions to the sport, to ETSU, and to his community embody the true spirit of athletics.”
Woods joins President of US Soccer Cindy Parlow Cone, former MTSU defensive standout Mike Caldwell, and wheelchair basketball champion Brandon Rowland as announced inductees of the Class of 2021. The full class of 11 will be announced over the coming weeks.
Established in 1966, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame honors figures from every sport including basketball, baseball, football, golf, soccer and track & field, along with coaches, teams, sports writers and others who made an impact. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development oversees all operations along with the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors.
For more information, visit tshf.net.