Detroit Pistons’ Dwane Casey elected to 2021 class of Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame

Detroit Free Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame has announced a 2021 Class featuring six individuals with strong Kentucky connections who have made outstanding contributions in athletics.

The selections for the Hall’s 44th class, as determined by a panel of 15 sports media professionals in Kentucky, are the late John Asher (media), Dwane Casey (basketball), Romeo Crennel, (football), Rachel Komisarz-Baugh (swimming), Keith Madison (baseball) and Elmore Smith (basketball).

The 2021 Class and their families will be honored Sept. 7 at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville. For ticket information or sponsorship opportunities, contact Julie Howell at or call (502) 587-6742.

The Louisville Sports Commission operates the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame, fueled by the Kentucky Lottery, and provided bios on each selection.

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Dwane Casey

Long before he was the head coach for the Detroit Pistons, Casey starred at Union County High School in Morganfield and was a member of the 1978 University of Kentucky basketball team, which won the school’s fifth NCAA Championship. Casey spent six years combined as an assistant coach at Kentucky and Western Kentucky and five years coaching in Japan before launching his NBA coaching career with Seattle in 1994. He spent 12 years as an assistant for Seattle, Minnesota and Dallas, winning an NBA title with the Mavericks in 2009. He was head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves for two seasons (2005-2007) and took the helm as head coach for the Toronto Raptors in 2011. In seven seasons, he led the Raptors to three 50-win campaigns, four Atlantic Division titles and five consecutive playoff appearances. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2018 by the National Basketball Coaches Association and media covering the NBA. He joined the Pistons in 2018 and in his first year led the team to a 41-41 regular season record and a trip to the playoffs.

John Asher

Asher was a media and public relations expert who became known as Mr. Kentucky Derby. A native of Leitchfield, Ky., Asher parlayed an award-winning career in radio news into a public relations position at Churchill Downs. Asher worked in radio news for three decades, earned five Thoroughbred racing Eclipse Awards while at WAVE and WHAS radio stations in Louisville the 1980s and 90s as well as numerous state and national awards for news reporting. For 20 years (1997-2018), he was one of the most important public relations professionals in Thoroughbred racing, rising to the level of Vice President of Racing Information at Churchill Downs and earning numerous Thoroughbred industry awards. Asher passed away at age 62 in August 2018.

Romeo Crennel

Currently Senior Advisor for Football Performance for the Houston Texans, Crennel graduated from Ft. Knox High School and was a four-year starter in football for Western Kentucky University (1966-69) and team captain as a senior. He was a full-time defensive assistant in college for 11 years combined at Western Kentucky, Texas Tech, Mississippi and Georgia Tech. His NFL career spans 38 years and started as special teams coordinator with the New York Giants. He was defensive coordinator for five Super Bowl wins – two with the Giants (1986, 1990) and three with New England (2001, 2003, 2004). Crennel was named NFL Assistant Coach of the Year in 2003 by the Pro Football Writers. He was head coach at Cleveland four seasons and interim head coach for a season at both Kansas City and Houston.

Rachel Komisarz-Baugh

While swimming for the University of Kentucky, Komisarz set school records in five individual events and was a member of four relay school records. She won Southeastern Conference titles in the 200-meter butterfly, 500- and 1,650-meter freestyle. She was a three-time SEC Swimmer of the Year and winner of the SEC Commissioner’s Trophy. Komisarz won the 200-meter butterfly at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials and at the ensuing Olympic Games in Athens was a member of the U.S. 4×200-meter freestyle relay team that won the gold medal. She also was part of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay team that won silver. Komisarz won 23 medals representing the U.S. in World Championships. She set American records in 2008 in the 50- and 100-meter butterfly and helped cement relay records in the 400- and 800-meter freestyle and 400-meter individual medley. The medley relay team set a world short course record. Komisarz was an assistant coach at Louisville for five years (2009-2014) and is now an associate director for development and strategic planning at Aspirant in Nashville.

Keith Madison

Brownsville native Madison was the University of Kentucky’s head baseball coach for 25 years (1979-2003). He led the Wildcats to 737 wins, third-most in SEC history when he retired, and most victories for any coach in any sport in UK history. Madison was the youngest Division I head baseball coach in history when he took over at UK at 26. He coached 17 players who played in the majors, including 2006 Cy Young winner Brandon Webb. Madison coached nine All-Americans, 20 first-team All-SEC selections and 89 SEC academic honors award-winners while leading the Wildcats to two NCAA appearances. He was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007 and in 2013 earned the Lefty Gomez Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to amateur baseball. Madison and his wife, Sharon, currently devote their time to youth baseball instruction and baseball mission work.

Elmore Smith

Known as The Rejector for his shot-blocking skills, this 7-foot center led Kentucky State to NAIA National Championships in 1970 and 1971, set a national record for rebounds in a season in 1971 (799) and averaged 22.3 points during his college career. Smith, a first team NAIA All-American his final year, went on to be the No. 3 overall pick in the 1971 NBA draft by the Buffalo Braves. He played eight seasons in the NBA – two each with the Braves, Lakers, Bucks and Cavaliers – and averaged 13.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie team in 1971-72 and set a season record for blocked shots with 397 in 1973-74. Smith established a still-standing single-game record with 17 blocks against Portland in 1973 and had the rare distinction of blocking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook. Smith went on to develop Elmore Smith’s Gourmet BBQ sauces and restaurants bearing his name.

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