JACKSON, Tenn. – Nov. 30, 2007 – After 34 years, 874 wins in three sports programs and a national championship in women's basketball, Union University Athletic Director David Blackstock’s Hall of Fame career is coming to an end.
Blackstock announced his retirement to the Union board of trustees Nov. 30, effective at the end of the spring 2008 semester.
“David Blackstock is a champion,” said Union President David S. Dockery. “For 34 years he has led Union University athletics to national prominence among colleges and smaller universities in this country.
“The university administration and trustees salute his years of leadership and wish him every blessing in the days to come.”
A 1964 Union graduate with a degree in health and physical education, Blackstock played baseball for the Bulldogs for four years. He became Union’s athletic director in 1973 after completing his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. He also holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Memphis.
Starting in 1981, Blackstock spent 18 seasons at the helm of the women’s basketball program at Union, compiling a 509-89 overall record. He earned his 500th career victory during the 1998-99 season, and led the Lady Bulldogs to the 1998 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship.
“That will always be a memory that was wonderful,” Blackstock said about the national title.
His tenure as head coach of the women’s basketball team included 12 conference championships, five district crowns and 10 national tournament appearances in his final 12 years.
Blackstock took over the baseball program in 1975 where he, along with co-head coach Linn Stranak, guided the team to a third-place finish in the 1983 NAIA World Series, the only season Union has participated in the event.
In the two seasons he coached the women’s softball team, from 2006-2007, the team compiled a 77-36 record with one NAIA Region XI tournament appearance.
Blackstock has been enshrined in the NAIA Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame and the Union University Sports Hall of Fame.
“Coach Blackstock has built one of the top small college athletic programs in the country,” said Tommy Sadler, Union’s associate director of athletics. “To many, Coach Blackstock is the face of Union athletics. He has been a great coach, administrator and friend for not only students, but the players and fans throughout his career.”
For Mark Campbell, who succeeded Blackstock as head coach of the Lady Bulldogs in 1999, the transition was a smooth one – thanks in large part to Blackstock’s character.
“It’s hard to be a first-year head coach and follow somebody who has been so successful,” Campbell said. “It takes somebody very special to allow for an atmosphere where you can fail.
“He’s very humble,” Campbell continued. “He really trusts the people he hires to do their job, which ultimately gives you confidence. He allowed me to have confidence in myself, because he allowed me to be me. He makes going into work every day fun.”
Blackstock and his wife Armita, a 1968 Union graduate, are both Jackson natives and have two children – Dixie (Blackstock) Waddell and Rebel. They are members of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson.
In his retirement years, Blackstock said he plans to spend time visiting friends and family, and to continue working with Union on a part-time basis helping with fundraising for the athletic department. He acknowledges that retirement will be a big step.
“It’s an area that I move into with great anticipation of the future and great memories of the past,” he said.
With reporting by Steven Aldridge.