Dale Neal Selected As 2017-18 NAIA Hall of Fame Inductee
"In his 23 years with the Lady Lions, Coach Neal has compiled a record of 639-172"

Dale Neal Selected As 2017-18 NAIA Hall of Fame Inductee

Sat, Sep. 16, 2017 - [FHU News]

Matt Barker, Sports Information Director

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced Friday that Dale Neal, head coach for the Freed-Hardeman Lady Lion basketball program, was selected as an NAIA Hall of Fame inductee, as announced by the national office.

The Hall of Fame Award is the highest honor presented by the NAIA. Nominees must have outstanding character and leadership ability, and be held in high esteem by their colleagues, former coaches and athletes. The Hall of Fame consists of an athlete and coach category for each sport and a category for general meritorious service.

Neal enters his 24th season at the helm of the Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn.) women’s basketball program, having compiled a record of 639-172 and a winning percentage of .787 as the head coach of the Lady Lions.

Few programs in the NAIA have seen the levels of success and consistency that Neal has brought to Freed-Hardeman in his tenure. Over that time frame, the Lady Lions are one of only two programs to have won at least 20 games and competed in the NAIA National Championship every year.

Under Neal’s direction, Freed-Hardeman has been a fixture in both the NAIA Top-25 poll and the NAIA National Tournament. The Lady Lions have made six total appearances in the Fab Four (1999, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015) and one appearance in the National Championship game (2014). They have also advanced to the National Quarterfinals four times (2004, 2005, 2006, 2017), won eight conference tournament titles and seven regular-season conference championships.

Neal has been named the Conference Coach of the Year eight times, including earning WBCA/NAIA National Coach of the Year honors in 2014-15 as well as 2016-17. The Lady Lions have boasted 10 Conference Players of the Year and three WBCA/NAIA National Players of the Year. Freed-Hardeman has a total of 29 All-American selections since 1999, including 18 first-team honorees.

Neal is also the winningest NAIA Active Coach at the NAIA Division I level.
1 Dale Neal Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) 23 639 172 0.788
2 Mike Davis Central Methodist (Mo.) 27 626 299 0.677
3 John Wethington Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 28 559 327 0.631
4 Russ Davis Vanguard (Calif.) 21 555 133 0.807
5 Garey Smith Grand View (Iowa) 36 553 464 0.534

"Although receiving an honor like this is not at all what has motivated me to be a coach, it doesn’t make me any less grateful to receive it," Neal said. "I am both honored and very appreciative to be listed among some of the greatest NAIA coaches in the country. I am keenly aware that coaching 29 NAIA All-Americans, 3 NAIA Players of the Year and 1 NAIA National Tournament  MVP is a recipe for a coach going into the Hall of Fame. I have always looked at ‘coaching honors as actually being ‘player honors’ and I am grateful to the 150 awesome young ladies that I have been blessed to coach at FHU."