Before his retirement in 2002, basketball coach Leon Barmore led the Lady Techsters from Louisiana Tech University to nine Final Four appearances.
Leon Barmore was one of the most successful women’s college basketball coaches in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s; he led Louisiana Tech’s Lady Techsters to a national championship and numerous conference and tournament titles. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 after posting a career head-coaching record of 576 wins and an .869 winning percentage, one of the highest in women’s college basketball history.
Barmore was born on June 3, 1944, in Ruston and starred as a player at Ruston High School and his hometown Louisiana Tech University before returning to Ruston High as its boys’ basketball coach. In 1977 he joined the Louisiana Tech women’s coaching staff and was named co-head coach in 1982. He took over the top spot in 1985 after the departure of fellow head coach Sonja Hogg and ascended the college basketball world quickly, becoming the fastest coach to reach five hundred wins in women’s history.
In the 1980s his team excelled, winning the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I title in 1988 and advancing to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four six times in eight years. The Techsters’ success under Barmore continued in the 1990s: From 1988 through 2002, they won thirteen regular-season conference titles and a dozen conference tournament crowns during seasons in the American South, Sun Belt, and Western Athletic conferences. By the time Barmore retired as the Lady Techsters’ coach, after the 2001–2002 season, he had amassed a coaching mark of 576 wins, 87 losses, and nine Final Four appearances.
Barmore was a highly successful coaching mentor as well. Eight of his assistant coaches—including two of his successors at Louisiana Tech, Kurt Budke and Chris Long—went on to become head college coaches at various schools. Another former Tech player and assistant coach, Kim Mulkey, went on to win two NCAA titles as head coach of the Baylor Bears. Barmore helped his protégé out for several years as an assistant coach in Waco, Texas.
In addition to entering the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2003, Barmore has been inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2003), the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (2004), and the Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame (2003).