Former coaches from Loogootee, Rushville coaches cited for long tenures of excellence

Jack Butcher and Cinda Rice Brown

March 2, 2023 – Two former Indiana high school basketball coaches were recognized among the honorees of the John Wooden Legacy Coaching Award presented by the National High School Basketball Coaches Association, it was announced Thursday (March 2).

Jack Butcher, former long-time boys’ coach at Loogootee, and Cinda Rice Brown, the former girls’ coach at Rushville, are the 2022-23 honorees from the Hoosier state as nominated by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. The two are among 61 winners from 31 states in an NHSBCA program coordinated with the Wooden family.

The award honors scholastic basketball coaches from around the country who are educators and have achieved excellence on the floor, in the classroom and in the community that further embody the characteristics and legacy of the late John Wooden. The criteria for the award are rooted in the ideals of education, longevity, character, service and excellence.

Butcher, with an 806-250 career record, was Indiana’s all-time boys’ basketball winningest coach when he retired from coaching in 2002. Brown, with a 448-109 record in IHSAA games, was Indiana’s all-time girls’ basketball winningest coach when she stepped down in 2000.

Butcher, 90, is a 1951 Loogootee graduate who helped his team to three sectional titles and earned all-sectional and all-regional honors as a senior. He was the Lions’ career leading scorer when he graduated and then went on to a four-season career over six years at Memphis State University as his time in college was interrupted by two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

Butcher was a three-year starter at Memphis State, being named an NCAA all-regional player in 1956 and to the all-NIT team as a senior in 1957 when his team was the NIT runner-up. The Boston Celtics selected Butcher in the 10th round of the 1957 NBA Draft, but he turned down that opportunity to instead return home to Loogootee as the school’s basketball coach – a position he held for 45 years while working for six superintendents and eight principals.

During Butcher’s tenure at Loogootee, his teams posted 43 winning seasons with 14 20-win seasons, four undefeated regular seasons (1962-63, 1974-75, 1981-82 and 1989-90) and three one-loss regular seasons (1966-67, 1976-77 and 1979-80). In the postseason, his Lions claimed championships in 20 sectionals, eight regionals and two semi-states with a state runner-up finish in 1975.

Butcher coached 11 players who scored 1,000 points or more during their careers and two Indiana All-Stars in Junior Gee (1963) and son Bill Butcher (1975). He was named Indiana’s state Coach of the Year in 1970 and 1975, was an IBCA district Coach of the Year in 1980 and 1989, and was Indiana’s nominee for NFHS national Coach of the Year in 1970, 1999, 2001 and 2002. In 2004, he authored a book entitled “Butcher Ball: It’s Not Just a Game.”

In 1986, he was among founding members of the Hoosier Basketball Coaches Association, a group that serves coaches in southern Indiana. He was the group’s first executive director and was inducted into the HBCA Hall of Excellence in 2013.

Butcher also received an IBCA Virgil Sweet Award in 2003 and has been awarded “Keys to the City” in Loogootee, Indianapolis and Memphis. He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Memphis State (now University of Memphis) Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995. He was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Gov. Frank O’Bannon in 2000. The current Loogootee High School gymnasium was named The Jack Butcher Sports Arena in 1983, and it is located on Butcher Boulevard, the roadway being renamed in his honor from Vincennes Street in 2000.

Butcher told the Bedford Times-Mail in 2002 after his retirement

“I think my longevity had so do with the fact it was my hometown. It was a dream of mine, before I was ever qualified to coach, before I realized I would be able to go to college. … I sometimes think it was destiny that I stayed here as long as I did.”

Since retiring, Butcher has helped create two scholarships that annually benefit Loogootee graduating seniors. The first was founded in 2004 and now is called the Butcher2-Gee-Brett Scholarship in honor of the four Loogootee players who have been inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame (Jack Butcher, Junior Gee, Steve Brett and Bill Butcher). The second was founded in 2011 through the Martin County Community Foundation and is called the Jack and Rita Butcher Loogootee Basketball Family Scholarship. Nearly 65 students have received scholarships from the two funds.

Butcher still attends Loogootee basketball games and plays golf when he can. He used to fish a lot and has enjoyed traveling with his wife to Alaska, Canada, the Bahamas and to Florida among other places over the years. He and his wife, Rita, have seven children, 15 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren with two more on the way.

Brown, 76, is a 1964 graduate of New Salem High School in Rush County. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in 1969 and a master’s degree in 1976. She played basketball, softball and field hockey at IU and was presented a belated “I” letter for those efforts in 1998.

She went on to teach and coach at Rushville for 31 years, the last 25 seasons as an IHSAA basketball program. She was the first Indiana girls basketball coach to achieve 400 victories, and she was the state’s all-time winningest girls’ basketball coach with a 448-109 record (in IHSAA games only) when she retired. Brown was inducted into Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in its inaugural women’s class in 2002.

Brown began coaching in 1969, initially directing basketball, tennis, golf, volleyball and gymnastics teams in Girls Athletic Association programs with basketball moving to IHSAA direction for the 1975-76 season. In 25 seasons of IHSAA competition, her basketball teams won 21 sectional titles – including a state record 18 in a row from 1980 to 1997 – as well as eight regionals and three semi-states. Her teams qualified for the State Finals in 1981, 1985 and 1993, the ’81 team finishing as state runner-up.

Her teams also won or shared 18 conference championships – 13 in the South Central Conference, including 10 in a row from 1979-88) and five in the Hoosier Heritage Conference. Brown coached in the first Hall of Fame Classic in December 1984, finishing as runner-up, and her teams also played in the Classic in 1989 and 1993.

She was the Indiana All-Star assistant coach in 1981 and the Indiana All-Star head coach in 1987, her 1987 squad being just the second Indiana team to sweep Kentucky in the home-and-home series that dates to 1976. She coached four players who were chosen Indiana All-Stars in Melissa Kilgore (1983), Noelle Young (1984), Missi Nelson (1988) and Jennifer Marlow (1995). One of those, Nelson in 1988, also was honored as a Converse All-American.

Brown was a 13-time SCC Coach of the Year, a three-time HHC Coach of the Year, a two-time Hoosier Basketball Coaches Association district Coach of the Year and a six-time Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association district Coach of the Year. In 1984, she also was an IBCA district Coach of the Year, the Indiana High School Coaches Association state Coach of the Year and the nominee for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association national Coach of the Year. In 1996, Brown was named Channel One National Coach of the Year.

Over her career, Brown served on the board of the NHSACA, IHSCA, the IBCA and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. She also was a longtime member and district coordinator for the ICGCA’s poll committee. She also worked as an on-air analyst for girls’ basketball State Finals radio and television broadcasts and Indiana All-Star telecasts while an active coach and after her retirement.

In addition to her 2002 induction to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Brown was presented with the ICGSA Marian Archer Award in 2003, served as a welcoming speaker at an NCAA Women’s Final Four banquet in 2005, was recognized as an Inspiring Woman by the Indiana Fever in 2009 and founded the Jack and Cinda Brown Basketball Mental Attitude Scholarship in Rushville in 2010.

On Jan. 9, 2016, Rushville recognized Brown by naming the court at its Memorial Gym as the “Cinda Rice Brown Court.” Most recently, in 2022, Brown contributed to an IHSAA video marking the 50th anniversary of the Title IX legislation, “Title IX: 50 Years.”

Brown has remained active in sport herself, winning a number of competitive golf championships over the years while serving on the board of the Indiana Women’s Golf Association for six years and its president in 1995. She recorded her first hole-in-one in 2017 and a second hole-in-one in 2022.

Since retiring as a coach, Brown also has resumed playing tennis, her Super Senior Team winning the Midwest Championship in 2011 and competing in the national competition that year in Arizona. She also has competed in running events, winning many age-division races and participating in 10 consecutive Indy Mini-Marathons. In addition, she enjoys biking, roller blading, kayaking and water skiing.

Brown is the widow of the late Jack Brown, who passed away in 2010. She has two step-children as well as three step-grandchildren with another on the way. Brown and companion Dan Pierce enjoy winters in Florida and summers in hometown Rushville.

Greg Wooden, grandson of John Wooden, wrote a letter to each winner of the Wooden Legacy Coaching Award in that stated:

            “Our family cannot express how excited we are that you are receiving the NHSBCA Wooden Legacy Coaching Award. My grandfather, John R. Wooden, devoted his life to making an impact in the lives of others through the game of basketball. His passion was teaching, and there was no group that he was more passionate about that subject than coaches.

            “The fact that you are receiving this award is a testament to a long-standing commitment you have made as a teacher/coach within your community. You are receiving this award because you embody many traits that my grandfather felt were vital to success.

            “I know that if my grandfather was here today, he would feel that it was an honor to meet you and congratulate you on your success. In his memory, our family wants to do that for him. We appreciate you, and the commitment you have made to success. We could not be more thrilled that the NHSBCA has incorporated this award and could not be happier that you are its recipient in its inaugural year.”

John Wooden, namesake of the award, was an Indiana native, Martinsville High School graduate and Purdue University graduate. He was a three-time basketball all-state selection in high school, leading the Artesians to a state title as a junior in 1927 and to state runner-up finishes as a sophomore and senior in 1926 and 1928. He became a three-time All-America player at Purdue, helping the Boilermakers be named the Helms Athletic Foundation national champion in 1932.

Wooden later guided UCLA to a record 10 NCAA men’s national championships with a 620-147 mark after previously coaching at South Bend Central High School and Indiana State University. His 29-year college coaching record, including two seasons at Indiana State, was 664-162. His 11-year high school coaching record, including two seasons at Dayton (Ky.), was 218-42.

The National High School Basketball Coaches Association is a network of coaches’ associations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with a member from each state on its board of directors. The NHSBCA is the national voice for high school basketball coaches, working to foster high standards of professionalism and to support coaches.


Winners from Indiana

  • 2021-22: Gene Miiller, Washington boys, and Donna Sullivan, Seymour girls.
  • 2022-23: Jack Butcher, Loogootee boys, and Cinda Rice Brown, Rushville girls.