LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO (KTSM) – In late July, the college basketball world lost a giant, as former legendary New Mexico State and Illinois coach Lou Henson passed away at the age of 88.
Despite his 779 career wins, Henson is not in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; however, if the governor of New Mexico has anything to say about it, that will change.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham penned a letter to the Naismith Hall of Fame this week, asking them to place Henson into the Hall posthumously. In her letter, Lujan Grisham championed not only Henson’s coaching achievements, but also his gentlemanly demeanor and how he treated everyone with kindness.
“I imagine it is rare for a governor to involve herself in the matter of who is and is not honored at your distinguished facility,” Lujan Grisham wrote in a letter to the Hall of Fame, dated August 20. “But I feel strongly enough about Lou Henson, and his legacy of leadership on the sideline and in my proud home state, that I am compelled to write you and kindly ask that you forward my recommendation of his qualifications for induction to the appropriate screening committee for consideration.”
Henson is the all-time wins leader at both NMSU and Illinois, taking both schools to the Final 4. He is one of just 15 coaches ever to do that at two schools.
Added Lujan Grisham, “His tremendous success as a coach, his push to desegregate the sport and his unwavering sportsmanship and kindness, in equal measure, qualify Lou Henson for consideration as one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, and I respectfully ask that his career and legacy be considered for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.”
The full letter from the governor can be viewed below: