Tim Nugent is known as the “Father of Accessibility,” having established what is now known as the Division of Disability Resources and Education at the University of Illinois, as well as the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. It was announced today that he will be receiving, posthumously, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award for his extensive work and advocacy for people with disabilities throughout his career. From the press release:
After concluding his military career, Nugent organized wheelchair sports for wounded veterans who were otherwise limited by lack of opportunity. Wheelchair basketball started up around the country, and most of the teams were organized at Veterans Administration hospitals. Nugent and his team, the Gizz Kids, organized the first wheelchair basketball tournament; from this, the National Wheelchair Basketball Association was formed. The Gizz Kids took their game on the road and went around the country expanding acceptance for wheelchair basketball.
Nugent is deeply respected by athletes, coaches and leaders alike. He expanded wheelchair basketball around the country and watched as it became a part of the Paralympic Games and Parapan Am Games. After being the first Commissioner of the NWBA, he was inducted into the Wheelchair Basketball Hall of Fame in 1973 and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2019.
The City of Champaign named a portion of Stadium Drive after Nugent, and Nugent Hall is home to the Beckwith Residential Community for students with severe physical disabilities. You can read more about his career and influence at the University of Illinois here. Nugent will be honored during the hall of fame’s Enshrinement Weekend, August 28-30. You can find out more here.
Top photo by L. Brian Stauffer from Illinois News Bureau.