Alcoa's Rankin to enter TSSAA Hall of Fame

HERMITAGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Gary Rankin has just about ran out of fingers and thumbs for all his state championship rings. He has won nine of them, and now the highly successful Alcoa High School football coach is being inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame.

Rankin has coached for over 35 years, winning five titles with Alcoa, and four more during his time at Murfreesboro Riverdale. Rankin told Sports Overtime Tuesday afternoon that he's been very blessed to be a part of such good programs.

Besides winning over 300 games, Rankin has coached 13 Mr. Football Award winners, and one Gatorade Player of the Year.

HERMITAGE ( - - The 2011 TSSAA Hall of Fame inductees have been selected. Twelve new members will be inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame at the annual luncheon at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro on Saturday, April 9, 2011.

Four administrators, four coaches, two officials, and two contributors will be inducted that day to join others in the annual gathering of those selected since the process began in 1982.

Those being inducted at this year’s luncheon are: Ronnie Carter, administrator from Pleasant View; O’Neal Henley, administrator from Jackson; Tommy Layne, administrator from Dunlap; Robert “Bud” Raikes, administrator from Smyrna; J. C. Campbell, coach from Roan Mountain; Johnny Morgan, coach from Etowah; Gary Rankin, coach from Alcoa; the late Jake Rudolph, coach from Memphis; Don Lady, official from Bluff City; Don Sutton, official from Memphis; Jean Griffith, contributor from Nashville; and Larry Taft, contributor from Nashville.

The Hall of Fame luncheon will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 9. The luncheon is to not only honor the new inductees and their families, but to honor all past inductees into the TSSAA Hall of Fame. Tickets will go on sale on Monday, February 28. You may purchase the tickets at $25.00 each by visiting our website ( Please print off the ticket form and mail it to our office along with a check or money order. All ticket orders will be available for pick-up on the day of the luncheon. There will be NO ticket sales at the door.

Additional information on the inductees is provided below. If you need a photo of any of the inductees, please contact Heather Carter (

Here are the other 11 TSSAA Hall of Fame Inductees

Ronnie Carter—Former TSSAA Executive Director who served 31 years in the association, 23 of them as Executive Director. Prior to that he was a teacher and coach at Overton High School in Nashville. Mr. Carter was very involved with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), serving on the Football Rules Committee for 25 years, Basketball Rules Committee for 12 years (Chairman for 8 years), and the Wrestling Rules Committee for four years. He was elected to serve as a member of the NFHS Board of Directors from 1998 – 2002, and had the honor of serving as President for the 2001-2002 term.

O’Neal Henley—Coached girls basketball and football for approximately 17 years at Jackson’s North Side High School before stepping into his role as an administrator. He also served as the offensive coordinator at Lambuth University in Jackson for one year. Mr. Henley served as an Assistant Principal for 12 years and the Athletic Director for six years at North Side. He was the Principal at North Side from 1973 to 1985 and then became the Principal at neighboring Jackson Central-Merry. He served in that position from 1993 to 1997. He was very instrumental in adding sports programs to both schools, and assisted in getting the “Best of the West” program implemented. Mr. Henley also served one year as the Assistant Superintendent of Schools (1997- 1998).

Tommy Layne—Former basketball and football coach at Whitwell High School for 24 years (1968 – 1992). He then became Principal at Sequatchie County High School in 1993, and remains in that position today. Mr. Layne has served on the TSSAA Board of Control since 2001. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association (TACA).

Robert L. “Bud” Raikes—Has served as an educator in Smyrna for over 50 years. He was a football and basketball coach for fourteen years at Rutherford County elementary and high schools. Mr. Raikes is now in his 37th year as the Principal of his alma mater, Smyrna High School. He is an A. F. Bridges Principal’s Award recipient, multi-term president of the Rutherford County Secondary Principals Association, and the school’s football stadium carries his name.

J. C. Campbell—Spent 41 seasons as the head football coach at Hampton High School. He served 49 years in the Carter County School System, and was the athletic director and vice principal at Hampton for 20 years. He has received numerous ‘Coach of the Year’ honors, and the football stadium at Hampton bears his name. Coach Campbell retired as football coach at the end of the 2008 football season, but he remains active working with the freshman team.

Johnny Morgan—Has taught and coached for the past 34 years at McMinn Central High School. He became the girls basketball coach in 1978, and continues in that role today. He has compiled over 700 wins, and has a winning percentage of 71%. His Chargerettes have captured eleven district titles, ten regional crowns, and have made 20 sub-state appearances. Coach Morgan’s teams have made it to the state tournament ten times, and were runners-up in 1997, 2004, and 2010.

The late Jake Rudolph—Coached football at Memphis University School for 39 years. He won 295 games at MUS, and achieved a career total of 302 victories. He had coached one year previously at Darlington School in Rome, Georgia. Coach Rudolph’s Owls won the 1985 Class AA State Championship, and his 1983 and 1990 teams finished as state-runner up. Coach Rudolph was awarded numerous ‘Coach of the Year’ awards prior to his retirement in 1997.

Don Lady—Has worked as a high school baseball umpire for 40 years. He was also a long time administrator in Sullivan County, and was instrumental in the development of the state athletic director’s association (TIAAA). He spent over 30 years in education as a teacher, coach, Assistant Principal, and Athletic Director. Mr. Lady has called numerous district and region baseball tournaments, and in 2009 he worked his third TSSAA State Baseball tournament.

Don Sutton—TSSAA official in baseball, basketball, football, and volleyball for over 30 years. He registered with the TSSAA in 1975, and continued to officiate until 2008. He was a member of the Memphis Association in baseball, basketball, and volleyball and the Mid-South Association in football, where he served as President. Mr. Sutton received a TSSAA Distinguished Recognition and an A. F. Bridges Award for his outstanding achievements in officiating.

Jean Griffith—has contributed well over 25 years to high school athletics and the TSSAA. Her numerous contributions include serving in many different roles at a wide variety of state championship events. These include, but are not limited to, working the scoreboard at state golf tournaments, scoring for numerous track and field relays, and the presentation of medals at all state track meets. Jean has helped in many different capacities at all state basketball and football championships. Her first role in high school athletics was the wife of a high school basketball coach. Her husband, Tommy, was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2001 in the ‘coaches’ category.

Larry Taft—longtime sportswriter with The Tennessean in Nashville. Has covered high school sports for nearly 40 years, having worked his first boys state basketball tournament in 1973 and his first football championship in 1974. He has worked professionally for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, The Democrat-Union (Lawrenceburg), and The Tennessean. He served as the Director of Media Relations at TSSAA for 16 months, before returning to The Tennessean to cover prep sports. He is currently in his fourth year as the Sports Editor at the paper. Mr. Taft has a true passion for high school athletics, and has always made sure it got the coverage it deserved. He enjoys the history of high school athletics and has done numerous nominations warranting the induction of countless TSSAA Hall of Fame members.

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