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CCF head coach Tim Ryan to enter FCSAA Men's Basketball Hall of Fame
 February 27, 2014

Courtesy of CF Sports Information

During his time as the head coach at the College of Central Florida, Tim Ryan has taken the program to great heights.

For his efforts, Ryan, who led the Patriots to the NJCAA National Championship last season and to the FCSAA State Tournament on nine straight occasions, will be inducted into the FCSAA Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame when the NJCAA Region VIII/FCSAA State Tournament kicks off next week in Ocala.

Under Ryan, the Patriots have qualified for the state tournament 10 times in 11 seasons.

CF is 254-103 under Ryan, who became the first coach in Mid-Florida Conference history to lead a program to three straight conference titles.

He also earned state and national coach of the year honors last season.

“It’s certainly a great honor and you don’t go into this thinking you’re going to go into the hall of fame,” Ryan said. “It’s something I never shot for, but as the years went on and my numbers got better, it was something that I thought could happen.

“Whenever you think about something like that, it takes the right situation for that to happen and you have to take advantage of it. I just think how fortunate I have been to be in a situation like this and follow (fellow hall of fame member and former CF coach Gene) Smithson and what a great job he did and to keep building it.”

Ryan, who will receive his official induction during halftime of the FCSAA Men’s Championship Game on March 8, thanked those who helped him reach the top.

“Having people like (CF athletic director Bob) Zelinski, (former CF president Dr. Charles) Dassance and (current CF president Dr. James) Henningsen and all of the support they’ve given me has been great,” Ryan said. “They have put me in the situation for this to happen and being voted into the hall of fame ranks up there with the greatest achievements I’ve had in my career.”

Shortly after being hired at CF over 11 years ago, Ryan, who became a full-time coach for the first time in his life when he took over the Patriot program, sat down and took it all in.

“I left here to see my family and I stopped at rest area right past State Road 200 (heading South),” said Ryan, who commuted from Pinellas County to Ocala four days per week for the first five years as head coach at CF. “I sat down on a rest stop and called my wife and ‘I was like, I can’t believe they are going to pay me to coach’ because I would have done it for nothing.

“If that was the case, I would have found a way to get it done. That’s how much I wanted the opportunity. It was a great situation (at CF) and I looked at what coach Smithson did here and I thought there was even more that we could do with the community and hopefully there is more to come.”

Ryan joins Dr. Bill Campion (1994), Smithson (1998), Simon Johnson (2008/Hampton College), and Dr. Jim Harvey (2013), as members of the CF athletic program to receive hall of fame honors from the state in men’s basketball.

“I am very pleased that the FCSAA men’s basketball coaches are placing (Ryan) in their Hall of Fame,” Zelinski said. “His record of achievement with conference titles, state tournament appearances and the national championship, speaks for itself.     

“Tim’s commitment to FCSAA basketball and his leadership throughout the state have been outstanding and this induction is recognition of his work and success.”

Being involved with his community was something the current CF coach has always enjoyed.

“All of my life, I’ve always volunteered,” Ryan said. “When I was a freshman in college, I started the Big Brothers and Big Sisters at my school and it grew from three to 85 members by the time I was a senior.

“The first thing I did before I had a job (after spending some time in Air Force) I went down to the local rec center (after moving to Florida at the age of 26) and told him by background and he asked me if I want to coach a team.

“So I coached a team with 13 or 14 year old guys.”

From there, Ryan got a job with CitiBank and left coaching.

“I was starting a family and didn’t think that I would have time,” he said. “My wife was pregnant and I was at the point where I felt I had to be a grown up now.

“About eight months into working at CitiBank, I got a survey from their headquarters which goes to about 50,000 employees and one of the questions was what do you do in your community? So I went to my boss and she said ‘well, you coach and I said ‘I gave that up,’ well two months later, I get a call from New York and they wanted to do an article for the company newspaper coaching these kids.”

Ryan got the call on Tuesday and he was informed by the powers-that-be at CitiBank they’d be down to Florida to see him over the weekend to take pictures.

“So, I called the guy at the rec center and he said ‘no problem’ and to come down Thursday night,” Ryan said. “Saturday, they came and took pictures. One stipulation was he said ‘I had to come down and coach the next season’ and I was like no problem.

Ryan then relayed a story about how he was picked by his former company for the interview.

“He said ‘my mother lives in Sarasota and she’s retired and I wanted to come visit here for the weekend,” Ryan said. “Things worked out, they came out and took the picture and I went back next year and really enjoyed coaching.”

Six years later at the age of 32, Ryan made the move from being a banker to a mortgage broker, which freed him up to have the time at the high school level.

Ryan spent time at both Clearwater Central Catholic and St. Petersburg Catholic.

He started at CCC as a freshman coach for two years, before moving up to head JV coach, before being SPC’s heading varsity coach for three seasons.

During this time, he also coached AAU and coached on average of 150 games per year, before he finally got in the door at the collegiate level at Hillsborough Community College.

“I was over the top with coaching basketball,” Ryan said. “I couldn’t get enough of it.”

Ryan then was able to get in touch with HCC coach Derrick Worrells about the possibility of coaching.

 “I didn’t know Derrick and I decided that I wanted to coach at the college level,” Ryan said. “I didn’t know how to get into it and (HCC) was about 20 minutes from my house. I lived in Pinellas County at the time, but Hillsborough was closer from where I lived and I put on a suit one day and drove over (to HCC).

“I knocked on (Derrick’s) door. He answered and I talked to him and he told me he didn’t have a spot, but if I wanted to volunteer I could.”

After the first year, Worrells put Ryan on staff and then third season saw him moved up to associate head coach.

From there, Ryan earned the job at CF and has rewritten the history books with the program and put the Patriots on the national landscape after leading them to just the third national title by a Florida program in the 75-year history of the NJCAA National Tournament.

Now, the veteran coach will be honored in front of his home fans.

Joining Ryan in this year’s hall of fame class for men’s basketball is current St. Petersburg coach Earnest Crumbley, former Miami Dade athletic director Jim Cox and Chipola’s Alice Pendergrass.

Crumbley has the most wins among active men’s coaches in the state at 289 and led SPC to the state title in 2002, while Cox was the helm of the MDC program and now runs the scorer’s table for the NBA’s Miami Heat.

Pendergrass was a longtime contributor to the state tournament, which had been held in Chipola since 1996.

HAPPY HOMECOMING: Ryan’s daughter, Veronica, a former Star-Banner Player of the Year at West Port High School, will lead Palm Beach State against No. 1 Chipola on Thursday night at 6.

“She’s had a great year and I know that she can’t wait to play in the tournament,” Panthers coach Kris Ruffo said. “It’s been a long time for her with her knee injuries, but she has really worked hard and done great things for us.

“We’re a post-oriented team, but our team goes as Veronica goes. She’s our catalyst and makes us go.”

Veronica Ryan averaged 8.2 points and 6.4 assists for the Panthers, the runner-ups in the Southern Conference. She also made 44.4 percent from 3-point range, which along with her assist total, were the tops in the state in a first-team all-conference season.

“My daughter has worked so hard to get back,” Tim Ryan said. “For her to have the type of year she had in the toughest region in the state is great and I am so proud of her and having her here and the rest of my family this week is going to be great.”

For the men, former West Port post standout Mike Kirkland returns with Eastern Florida State.

The Titans, the former Brevard Community College, finished as state runner-ups last season to CF and rolled to their second straight Southern Conference title this past season.

Kirkland was a big reason for the success of the Titans, as he made 60.8 percent of shots, while posting 10.0 points and 7.2 rebounds, on his way to first-team all-conference honors.

“Mike was a key contributor for us as a freshman and then came back and had a great sophomore season,” EFS coach Jeremy Shulman said. 

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