ATLANTA-For his outstanding achievement and contributions to the game of basketball, Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter was named the winner of the Gene Bartow Award on Wednesday.

Hunter led the Panthers to a second NCAA tournament appearance in the last four years last month. Georgia State won the Sun Belt Conference Championship after finishing as the runner-up during the regular season.

The Panthers finished the year 24-11 including a 10-game winning streak during conference play. Hunter, the all-time winningest coach in Georgia State history, is responsible for three of the four winningest seasons in program history.

In seven seasons he has led Georgia State to 147 wins, an average of 21 per season. The Panthers have finished no worse than second in the Sun Belt Conference in four of the last five years.

Off the court, Hunter has worked with Samaritan’s Feet for the last 11 years to raise awareness for the 300 million children around the world who wake up barefoot every day. He has coached one game a season barefoot and brought his Georgia State teams to South Africa, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic to distribute hope and shoes to children.

“This is a great honor,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “Coach Bartow had a long career of winning games and is one of the most respected individuals in our industry. To have my name associated with his is very special. I also want to make sure I thank my assistant coaches and our student-athletes as without them this would not be possible.”

The Gene Bartow award recognizes outstanding achievement and contributions to the game.

Bartow spent 36 years as a head coach, posting a 647-353 record.  He led Memphis State to the 1973 NCAA championship game, losing to UCLA in St. Louis, the last in the Bruins' streak of seven straight titles. After leaving Memphis to coach at the University of Illinois, Bartow succeeded legendary UCLA coach John Wooden at UCLA in 1975. In two seasons at UCLA, Bartow’s Bruins had a 52-9 won-lost record and reached the 1976 NCAA Final Four.

Then, following the 1976-77 season, Bartow departed UCLA to start a basketball program at the University of Alabama Birmingham as both head coach and director of athletics. He served at UAB for 18 years, leading the Blazers to the National Invitation Tournament in the program's second year of existence. Overall, he guided UAB to seven straight NCAA tournament berths, reaching the Sweet 16 in 1981 and the Elite Eight in 1982.  

While at UAB, Bartow became the winningest coach in Sun Belt Conference history with 111 career Sun Belt wins.  In 2005 Bartow was honored as the all-time Sun Belt Men’s Basketball Coach during the league’s celebration of its 30th anniversary.  

In 1996, Bartow retired from coaching and UAB honored him by naming its basketball facility Bartow Arena the following year. Most recently, the 81-year old Bartow was the president of Hoops LP, the parent company of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and the FedEx Forum.