NAIA to Induct Dr. Jim Poteet into Hall of Fame

Jim Poteet as a Junior at Midland High School.

Bethany - The National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) will induct Southwestern Christian University’s associate athletic director, professor of sport management and assistant basketball coach Dr. James “Jim” Poteet into the Hall of Fame. The induction will take place during the NAIA National Convention in April 2014.

“Few men know more about or have impacted the NAIA as much as Jim Poteet,” said Berry Tramel, Sports Columnist for The Oklahoman. “When George Hauser retired from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, completing a 35-year coaching career, he reeled off the names of great coaches in Oklahoma. The first name he listed was Poteet.”

“I think it was fitting the NAIA decided to honor someone who represents everything the NAIA stands for,” said Dr. Reggies Wenyika, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Southwestern Christian University. “Jim Poteet has been an example on the court and off the court and continues to be. He will forever be remembered as Mr. NAIA. Jim has uniquely balanced emphasis on the role that athletics plays in the physical, mental and spiritual development of students and he has certainly been an asset here at Southwestern Christian University. “

Poteet will receive the meritorious service award for his contribution to the NAIA as an athlete, coach, professor, athletic director, consultant and administrator over the past fifty-four years. He has received numerous awards and honors from the organization, including Coach of the Year (1965, 1974, 1976), being named president to two different conferences, and being a voting delegate at the National Conference for several years. However, being inducted into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor that the NAIA bestows on someone.

“I have been a member of the NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame since 1998,” said Dan Hays, Oklahoma Christian University Head Men’s Basketball Coach. “There are few people that I would recommend and put in the same category as Dr. Jim Poteet.”

As with most legends, Poteet’s beginnings were like other young men. He was born in Odessa, Texas on a ranch where his only contact with sports was what he heard on the radio. That is until he was about ten and his family moved into town in Midland, Texas. There he had the opportunity to play on pick-up teams with other boys in the neighborhood, as well as get involved on sports teams at school. He played football, basketball, baseball and track, but during high school his focus became basketball and track.

“Basketball soon became my number one sport,” Poteet said, “and track (pole vault) became an afterthought.”

Poteet started as point guard for the Midland High School Bulldogs his junior year, and he was the leading scorer during his senior year. He was named an All-District and All-Regional Player.

His outstanding performance earned him a scholarship from Pasadena College/Point Loma in California and in 1959 he became a college athlete under the leadership of Coach Champ Cartwright. Here he also met and married the love of his life, Margaret Ellis. They were married on August 24, 1962 and have celebrated 51 years of marriage. Their son Joshua and his wife, Kassy, live in Kansas City and their son Brandon lives in Bethany.

It was under Coach Cartwright’s mentorship that Poteet gained exposure to the NAIA. Each spring Cartwright would make the trip to Kansas City to watch the NAIA National Tournament and after Poteet’s senior year, Cartwright invited him to come along.

“I quickly fell in love with the competitive atmosphere of small college basketball and the NAIA,” Poteet said. “I was completely hooked on the NAIA and its programs for the small college athlete.”

Poteet would go on to coach at five NAIA schools, including: Northwest Nazarene University, Pasadena College, Biola College, Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University), and Southwestern Christian University. He also coached at Seattle Pacific University, as well as led the Campus Crusade Athletes in Action-USA team to victory over the 1980 Russian Olympic team. His teams won four NAIA District Championships and he coordinated nine sports ministry teams that traveled internationally.

“From a pure basketball standpoint, I know of no coach during the 35 years I have served as Commissioner of the Sooner Athletic Conference who has had a greater understanding of the game of basketball, as well as the ability to teach the game to his players and then to lead them through to victory,” said John Hudson, President of the Sooner Athletic Conference. “But it is the quality of Jim’s personal character and the quality of the young men he coached that makes me believe that his accomplishments pale in comparison to the outstanding job he did in preparing young men for life. Jim always gave of himself and put his players first and the results have been truly amazing.”

The first sports ministry team that Poteet participated with was Venture for Victory in 1967 in South Pacific and Southeast Asia. When Poteet became the head coach at Biola College he organized several sports trips to Mexico, and in 1971, he returned to South Pacific.

“I became convinced during this trip that one of the keys to developing an outstanding basketball program in a Christian university was to take student athletes into other cultures on a consistent basis,” Poteet said.

Throughout his career, Poteet developed a reputation for integrity and strong character, both in the United States and internationally.

“Jim Poteet is a principled person who incorporates an ethic of service into his character and conduct,” said Bob Wilson, Director of Athletics at Vanguard University. “He has a deep empathy and understanding for the needs and concerns of other people, and is deeply respected by members of the NAIA as a person of integrity who models character values.”

In 1999, Poteet met NAIA President Steve Baker, and the Council of Presidents soon hired him to serve as a consultant to the President with the main role of developing a character program. Poteet researched and developed a program with five basic principles that each NAIA athlete must model: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership. NAIA staff member Rob Miller worked with Poteet to help put the program in place and elect the first NAIA National Character Committee.

“When he developed the Champions of Character program for the NAIA, that did not surprise any of us that knew him,” said Ron Thulin, Fox Sports Play-by-play. “Character: a lot of coaches talk about it; Coach Poteet lived it, and transferred that to a national platform.”

Coach Poteet now spends his time helping to build a Sport Management Program at Southwestern ChristianUniversity, as well as serve as the associate athletic director and assistant men’s basketball coach.

He is very active in his church, community, and Senior Olympic Basketball as a participant. He and his wife were recently the recipient of the Church of the Nazarene Distinguished Service Award, the highest award given to a layperson.

“He has displayed integrity and trustworthiness in his recruiting, all phases of his coaching career, and during his amazing record as a Senior Olympic athlete,” said David Hall, 20th Governor of the state of Oklahoma. “His personal commitment has benefited the member schools of NAIA, but more impressive is the impact he has had on the lives of young men and women who were his students.”