Burnett, Wynn to be Honored by Valley Friday



ST. LOUIS -- A pair of Missouri State legends will be honored by the Missouri Valley Conference, as former MSU women's basketball coach Cheryl Burnett inducted into the MVC Hall of Fame, and former coach and administrator Dr. Mary Jo Wynn will be the recipient of the John Sanders 'Spirit of The Valley' Award at the conference's annual Presidents' Hall of Fame Brunch in St. Louis this Friday (March 5).

The Lady Bears' all-time winningest coach, Burnett coached Missouri State from 1987 to 2002. She will become the first MSU head coach to be enshrined into the Valley's Hall of Fame.

A native of Centralia, Mo., Burnett guided MSU to ten 20-win seasons and 10 NCAA Tournament berths in her 15 seasons as head coach of the Lady Bears. Missouri State advanced beyond the first round in seven of those 10 NCAA appearances, with a Sweet Sixteen trip in 1993 and trips to the Final Four in 1992 and 2001. Her 1991-92 Lady Bears became the lowest-seeded team (eighth) to reach the Final Four, as they defeated Kansas, top-seeded Iowa, UCLA and Ole Miss before facing Western Kentucky in the national semifinals. The 2000-01 MSU squad was seeded fifth and knocked off Toledo, Rutgers, top-seeded Duke and Washington to advance to St. Louis with a national semifinal loss to Purdue.

Burnett's career numbers include 319 overall wins and 201 league triumphs in the Gateway Collegiate Athletic and Missouri Valley Conference play. Missouri State won or tied for nine conference regular-season titles and claimed six league tournament championships during her tenure. 

Burnett's years saw her MSU teams also among conference and national leaders in academic performance and the Lady Bears were among the nation's top 10 teams in average attendance 11 years in a row, including leading the nation in average attendance in 1992-93. Three Lady Bears were named CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) Academic All-Americans, with Lisa Davies selected as the 1997-98 Academic All-American of the Year.

A winner of numerous Coach of the Year honors who produced eight Kodak All-America selections by five different players, Burnett had the staggering totals of five league MVP selections, 26 first-team all-conference players and 12 first-team academic all-conference choices. In 2007, she was named the Valley's all-time greatest women's basketball coach in conjunction with the selection of the MVC All-Centennial Team, onto which seven of her former players were voted. She was inducted into the Missouri State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.

A graduate of the University of Kansas, Burnett recruited and coached Lady Bear legend Jackie Stiles -- the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women's basketball history with 3,393 points and a 2006 MVC Hall of Fame inductee. Burnett becomes the third Lady Bear in the MVC Hall, joining Stiles and Melody Howard.

A native of Hartville, Mo., Mary Jo Wynn retired from the Missouri State athletic department in 1998 after 40 years of service to her alma mater, including nearly a quarter century as a senior athletics administrator. A 1953 MSU graduate, Wynn was named the first Missouri State director of women's athletics in 1975 and concluded her career as senior associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator when the men's and women's athletics departments merged in 1992.

The Missouri Valley Conference presents the 'Spirit of The Valley' Award to honor a student-athlete, coach or university administrator who exemplifies the spirit of the late John Sanders, former MVC assistant commissioner for operations. Criteria includes, but is not limited to, passion for the Conference, strong work ethic and sense of humor. The league began presenting the award in 2005, when former Indiana State director of athletics Andi Myers became the first recipient. Since then, Missouri State director of athletics Bill Rowe (2006), MVC television personality Mitch Holthus (2007), Southern Illinois radio play-by-play voice Mike Reis (2008) and former MVC coordinator of men's basketball officials Johnny Overby (2009) have been honored.

Wynn worked as a teacher and coach and helped make Missouri State a dominant member of the Gateway Collegiate Athletic and Missouri Valley Conferences after MSU moved to Division I in 1982. In Division I during her administrative tenure, Missouri State made seven NCAA appearances in basketball, four in softball and three in volleyball. MSU won nine league tourney titles and eight MVC regular-season crowns.

Wynn organized women's athletics competition in 1958 with volleyball and tennis teams. Her tenure saw the Missouri State women's programs grow to 11 sports. Wynn coached volleyball until 1972, guiding the 1969 team to ninth in the first AIAW championship and led the tennis program until her appointment as director of women's athletics in 1975.

A pioneer in so many ways, Wynn played a major role from the days Missouri State women's teams operated from within the physical education department to the time MSU became a charter member of the AIAW and then moved to the NCAA in 1982. She was also instrumental in the formation of the Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference in 1982 and again when the Gateway programs moved to the Missouri Valley Conference on July 1, 1992.

In 1985, Wynn began a support group for women's athletics, helping MSU lead the nation in women's basketball attendance in 1992-93 and rank in the top 10 each of her last seven years. A recipient of the Missouri State Outstanding Alumni Award in 1995, she organized the MSU Women's Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981 and was herself enshrined in 1999 -- the first year of joint men's and women's hall inductions.

She received the 1999 NACWAA Lifetime Achievement Award -- an honor bestowed to an administrator who dedicated their career to advancing women in sport. In 1998, Missouri State University renamed its top academic award for female student-athletes the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Senior Female Scholar-Athlete Award in her honor.

Tickets to the Presidents Hall of Fame Brunch are $40 per person. For information on how to attend the event, please contact the Missouri Valley Conference office at 314/421-0339.



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