Basketball, 1950-53; Basketball Coach, 1956-80
Inducted September 27, 1980
Bill (Jinx) Thomas carved one of the notable records in the entire history of SMS athletics, with involvement in the SMS basketball program which spanned nearly three decades. Coming to SMS in 1950 as a transfer from Westminster College, the Buffalo native was a three-year starter for the Bears at guard. The 1951 Bruins were the MIAA runnerup and went on to win league titles the next two seasons. Each of those Bear ballclubs was to go on through district NAIA playoffs and a grueling five-game endurance test in the NAIA national tournament in Kansas City to emerge as the first team in the history of the tournament as a 32-team event to come away with back-to-back national championships. Thomas was a two-time all-conference selection and gained NAIA All-American honors in 1952. He returned to SMS as an assistant coach in 1956 under Eddie Matthews and was on the staff in 1959 when the Bears finished as an NCAA national runnerup. Thomas became the head coach of the bears in 1964 when Matthews passed away and over the next 16 seasons, directed SMS to eight MIAA basketball titles, more than any other cage coach in league history. The Bears won or tied for the conference championship five years in a row from 1966 to 1970 and finished second in the NCAA Division II tournament on three occasions-1967, 1969, and 1974. Thomas compiled a 16-year coaching mark of 265 wins and 158 losses, twice was honored as a district Coach of the Year, and in 1974 was named the College Division national Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.