Mizzou Honors Legendary Basketball Coach Norm Stewart With Statue Outside Mizzou Arena
On a day the Missouri Tigers will look to the future on the basketball court, it will also honor one of the most of the important figures in the history of the program.
On the afternoon of November 10 a ceremony will be held to dedicate a statue of Norm Stewart outside Mizzou Arena on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus.
Cuonzo Martin will coach his first regular season game as the head coach of the Missouri Tigers on Friday night at Mizzou Arena. Several hours before Michael Porter Jr. and company get dressed to take the court against Iowa State, a ceremony will be held at the Walsworth Family All-American Plaza on the north side of Mizzou Arena.
The 1:30 pm ceremony will unveil a statue of legendary coach and player synonymous with Missouri basketball. John Rooney, the “Voice of the Tigers” will host the event with Athletic Director Jim Sterk, Chancellor Dr. Alex Cartwright, former player Doug Smith and the 82-year old Stewart himself also scheduled to speak.
The event is free and open to the public. Parking will be available in the lots around Mizzou Arena with the understanding that vehicles must be moved right after the ceremony.
The statue, which Stewart considers more of “a tribute to others,” was funded through private donations.
December 2, 1967: Missouri 74, Arkansas 58
“Stormin’ Norman” served as the head coach of the University of Missouri men’s basketball team for 32 seasons, beginning with a victory at Arkansas on December 2, 1967. He coached his final game on March 11, 1999, a 61-59 loss to New Mexico in the NCAA Tournament.
Stewart had a win-loss record of 631-333 in his 32 seasons. The coach he replaced, Bob Vanatta, had a 42-80 record over 5 seasons.
Stewart’s name fittingly adorns the basketball court at Mizzou Arena. In terms of Mizzou sports history, Norm Stewart belongs in the same echelon as Dan Devine and Don Faurot, men that both have athletic facilities named after them on the Missouri campus. In fact, the two men interviewed Stewart back in 1967 before Devine — who had just taken over for Faurot as athletic director — offered him the basketball job.
Before taking the Missouri job, Stewart coached six seasons at what is now the University of Northern Iowa. It was the only stretch of years where Norm’s name was attached to another university.
Norm Stewart: National Champion
While Missouri has never won a national championship in basketball, Norm Stewart did win a national championship at the University of Missouri.
Stewart came to Columbia as a student after graduating from Shelbyville High School. He starred both on the basketball court and on the baseball diamond for the Tigers, pitching for the 1954 National Champion baseball team.
Stewart briefly played professional baseball after college in the Baltimore Orioles organization and professional basketball for one season in the NBA for the St. Louis Hawks.
While Stewart only played five games over 23 days in 1956 for the Hawks, he managed to play alongside three future NBA Hall-of-Famers in Bob Pettit, Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan of the Hawks.
Despite losing Stewart, the St. Louis Hawks would go on to win the NBA Championship the next season.
Stewart’s brief NBA career didn’t earn him a spot in the NBA Hall of Fame, but he is a member of three others a total of 4 times. He is the only person to be inducted into the University of Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007 and entered the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
Coaches Vs. Cancer
The urge for Stewart and his wife, Virginia, to raise money to fight cancer stemmed from their own experiences with the disease.
Norm Stewart helped start the American Cancer Society’s Coaches Vs. Cancer program that officially launched in 1993. The program has now raised more than $100 million dollars for cancer research.
One event that raises money for Coaches Vs. Cancer is the Norm Stewart Classic that takes place at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri. The event features 48 high school basketball teams playing 24 games over the course of 48 straight hours.
This year’s Norm Stewart Classic will begin with the Columbia Rock Bridge girls basketball team taking on Hazelwood Central at 6 pm on Friday, December 1. The final game will see the Columbia Rock Bridge boys basketball team tipping off against Vianney at 4 pm on Sunday, December 3.
The Stewart Cancer Center at Boone Hospital Center is named after Norm and Virginia.
A Fitting Tribute To “Stormin’ Norman”
Norm Stewart took over a struggling Missouri basketball program in Brewer Fieldhouse.
He became “Stormin’ Norman” and brought the program to national prominence on the Hearnes Center sidelines.
He’ll be there Friday night as a new era of Missouri basketball begins.
His likeness will stand proud outside Mizzou Arena for years to come, both as a symbol of Missouri basketball and a reminder to never spend money in Kansas.
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