Jack T. Martin

Head Basketball Coach, Lamar University; Texas Air National Guard Brevet Brigadier General, BS 1948

Jack T. Martin was born in 1922 in Desdemona, Texas, and reared in Burkett, Texas. Following graduation from Burkett high School in 1937, he attended John Tarleton Junior College in Stephenville, Texas, on a basketball scholarship and enrolled in the ROTC program.

At the beginning of World War II, he volunteered for the Army Air Corps, serving in the Pacific as a B-29 instructor and pilot. He also played on the Pacific Championship Basketball team. He was discharged in 1946.

In January 1947, Jack entered Hardin-Simmons University on a basketball scholarship and for two seasons was a outstanding player. Immediately upon graduation from HSU in 1948, he was appointed head basketball coach. At age 25, he became one of the few to coach a senior-college team after never having coached in a high school or serving as an assistant, and was one of the nation’s youngest coaches in a major senior college.

Jack earned his Master of Education degree from HSU in 1951. He continued as head basketball coach at HSU for three years before accepting the same position at Lamar University (then Lamar Tech), Beaumont, Texas, where he completed 25 more years as a head basketball coach. He then became the director of placement at Lamar, an administrative post he held 13 years until his retirement in 1990.

Jack was dean of the Texas Collegiate (senior college) Basketball Coaches for eight years. He had a total of 28 years, with a record of 375-318, coaching a total 693 games. His three years at HSU and 25 years at Lamar University covered a span longer than any other active mentor in the state at that time.

At the time of his retirement, he was the winningest active basketball coach in Texas in Elmore Hudgins’ study, “Top Twenty Basketball Coaches.” Through 1972-1973, Martin was first in Texas and sixth in the nation in total victories of 350, and ranked 17th in the nation in percentage. This study involved 216 major universities. He won conference championships five seasons and finished runner-up on five occasions. He took his teams to six NCAA postseason playoffs with his trademark high scoring average and fast-break style of play.

Jack served on the prestigious NCAA Rules Committee six years and was treasurer for two years. He has received numerous honors for basketball achievement, including being named to the HSU Athletics Hall of Fame and to the Lamar University Sports Hall of Honor. Some addition recognitions include Distinguished Alumni, HSU; Distinguished Citizen Award, Beaumont, Texas; Life Membership Award in Southwest Placement Association; Honorary member, Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity; Sons of the Republic of Texas; and Order of Daedalians, Fraternity of Military Pilots.

Jack married Shirley Stephens in 1947. They have one daughter, Sharon Lee Price, and two grandsons.

In 1948 Jack became a member of the Army National Guard in Abilene. After moving to Beaumont, the State of Texas appointed him the commander to organize the mid-country Air National Guard Squadron, Jefferson County Airport, Nederland, which became known throughout the state, nation, and word for its efficiency and superb performances. He completed 35 years with Air Force and Texas Air National Guard.

Jack is a brigadier general in the Texas Air National Guard, and holds the highest top security defense rating. He served in the Pacific throughout World War II, and as a veteran of more than 35 years in the Air Force. He was at 22 one of the youngest B-29 pilots in the Pacific Theatre.

It is the high honor of Hardin-Simmons University to recognize one of her own and to formally induct Jack T. Martin into the HSU Hall of Leaders.