Van Horn will be inducted into Arkansas Sports HOF with special ceremony

By: Matt Jones
Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn watches during an exhibition game against Wichita State on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn watches during an exhibition game against Wichita State on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, in Fayetteville.

— University of Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn is going into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Van Horn will be inducted during a first-of-its-kind special ceremony on Friday, Jan. 25 at Fayetteville Town Center. The event will begin at 6 p.m.

"It's a huge honor for me, personally," Van Horn said. "It's something you don't really think about. It's something I think that comes with time."

Van Horn was elected to the hall's 2017 class, but was unable to attend the annual ceremony in Little Rock that year because it conflicted with the Razorbacks' baseball schedule.

Van Horn will be classified a member of the 2019 class. The rest of the 10-member 2019 class will be inducted during a ceremony March 29 at Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. Arkansas is scheduled to play a baseball game against Ole Miss that night at Baum Stadium.

"There had been some conversation over the past year about it...and I really didn't know what to say, if I could get there or not," Van Horn said. "They just decided to have a banquet here, which was really nice."

Van Horn, 58, is in his 17th season as head coach at Arkansas and has a record of 643-364. In June, the Razorbacks finished national runner-up in their fifth trip to the College World Series under Van Horn, a former Arkansas middle infielder who was named Southwest Conference newcomer of the year in 1982.

Van Horn played one season for the Razorbacks after transferring from McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas. After a brief stint in the Atlanta Braves' farm system, Van Horn returned to Arkansas as a graduate assistant coach for Norm DeBriyn for four seasons, which included trips to the College World Series in 1985 and 1987.

"As a player for us he was like a coach on the field," said DeBriyn, who will speak during Van Horn's induction ceremony. "After pro ball he came back and was a GA with us and just did a great job. I could see the potential in him as being a tremendously successful coach, and that's exactly what has happened.

"What he's done with the Arkansas program, the monster he's built is just a tribute to him and his staff and his players."

Van Horn caught his coaching break in January 1998, when, after three seasons coaching Northwestern (La.) State he was hired as head coach at Nebraska shortly before the start of the season. After a mediocre first season, Van Horn built the Cornhuskers into a powerhouse. He won three Big 12 championships and took Nebraska to its first two College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2002, and created fan demand that led to the construction of a new baseball stadium.

He was hired to replace the retired DeBriyn following the 2002 season.

"I thought for sure he was the right guy and (former athletics director) Frank Broyles felt that way, too," DeBriyn said. "Nebraska had never, ever been to a College World Series and he went two years in a row. The people in Nebraska loved him and they still do.

"I really had a good feeling and I knew he would have success here. The sky is the limit with what they've got going now with facilities and the culture he's established."

In addition to five College World Series, Van Horn won a Southeastern Conference championship at Arkansas in 2004 and has won at least a share of four SEC West division titles with the Razorbacks, including earlier this year.

He has an overcall coaching record of 1,228-604 in 30 seasons that includes time in junior college and NCAA Division-II.

Van Horn will be the 13th Razorbacks head coach to be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and former football coach Houston Nutt will be the 14th during the banquet in March.

Other Arkansas coaches who have been inducted are Frank Broyles, John Barnhill, Lou Holtz, Ken Hatfield, Fred Thomsen, George Cole and Bowden Wyatt for football; DeBriyn for baseball; Nolan Richardson, Eddie Sutton and Gary Blair for basketball; and John McDonnell for track & field. Hatfield and Cole were inducted as a player/coach.

Van Horn will be the ninth to be inducted while still coaching the Razorbacks.

This is the fourth time Van Horn has been elected to a hall of fame. He was inducted as a player into the Winnetonka (Mo.) High School Alumni Hall of Fame, and the Ban Johnson League Hall of Fame in Kansas City, and as a coach was inducted into the Central Missouri State University Hall of Fame. Van Horn led Central Missouri to a Division-II NCAA championship in 1994, his only season with the program.

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