Racer Legend Connie Keasling Inducted into OVC Hall of Fame



Former Murray State women’s tennis coach Connie Keasling became part of the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame when she was inducted as part of the class of 2021 along with two former athletics directors, Phil Dane of UT Martin and Theresa Phillips, who also coached women’s basketball at Tennessee State.

Keasling is Murray State’s 13th inductee into the OVC Hall of Fame and the ninth head coach and the first inductee since former AD Mike Strickland was inducted in 2017. She is the third MSU woman to be inducted following former MSU president, Dr. Kayla Stroup in 1997 and Coach Margaret Simmons in 2014.

Keasling had a positive impact on women’s athletics in the OVC in two spans at Murray State (1984-87 and 1992-2011). She was inducted into the Murray State Hall of Fame in 2018.

Although other previous OVC Hall of Fame inductees have coached tennis at some point during their career, Keasling is the first female tennis-only coach to earn the honor from the OVC. She led Murray State to five OVC Championships (1987, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007) and five runner-up finishes and the Racers made four NCAA Tournament appearances (2001, 2002, 2003, 2007).

She had 73 student-athletes come through her program at Murray State and during one 10-year period, every player graduated and won an OVC Championship. Her teams also performed at a championship level in the classroom with 42 OVC Commissioner and 39 Honor Roll winners and five OVC Medal of Honor winners. The Racers also had 28 ITA Scholar-Athlete Award winners and the program had two NCAA APR awards.

Keasling’s teams were also known for sportsmanship on the court, earning four OVC Team Sportsmanship Awards and an ITA National Team Sportsmanship honor (2006-07). When she retired, her 22 years of service was the fourth-longest tenure of any coach in Murray State history.

Keasling played tennis and basketball at East Tennessee State when they were members of the OVC and was a graduate assistant tennis coach and volunteer assistant women’s basketball coach at Eastern Kentucky before taking the Murray State job.

The Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame was organized in 1977 with the intent of honoring the coaches, administrators, faculty and staff that have been associated with the OVC for at least five years and provided extensive and outstanding service to the Conference. With the induction of this year’s class, the membership will reach 92.

Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame Members from Murray State

Year       Name                        Institution(s)                    Category
1977       Roy Stewart              Murray State                    Coach/Administrator
1979       J.D. Rayburn             Murray State                    Athlete/Contributor
1988       Johnny Reagan         Murray State                    Coach/Administrator
1990       Bennie Purcell           Murray State                    Coach
1997       Dr. Kala Stroup          Murray State/SEMO         President
2000       Cal Luther                  Murray State/UTM           Coach
2005       Bill Cornell                 Murray State                    Coach
2007       Steve Newton            Murray State                    Coach
2008       Elvis Green                Murray State                   Coach
2014       Margaret Simmons     Murray State                   Coach/Administrator
2016       Frank Beamer             Murray State                   Coach
2017       Mike Strickland           Murray State/BEL            Administrator
2021       Connie Keasling          Murray State                   Coach

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