Skip to content


J. Thomas McNamara

As a member of District 61’s Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee, I recently received this strong nomination of former Stephen Decatur basketball standout Jim Hallihan from Dr. Darren Biehler.
I’ll let Darren cite the reasons why Hallihan should be selected for induction at the winter program whose class will be selected by the committee sometime this fall.
1962 Illinois State basketball champs ( 735 schools started tournament)  All City 1962
Jim was elected President of the Student Council 1962-63
1963 Chicago Daily News All State Basketball;  All-City and All Area Basketball (Herald & Review)  
1963 MVP track for SDHS track team and City Champ in 440 
Broke high school record later that spring in 880 at state track meet.  Finished about 10th place in the state in 880 after winning district meet.
Big 12 champion in 1:59.6 improved on school record that had been set decades before.
Received scholarship to Miami of Ohio for basketball and track 
Jim played basketball at Miami of Ohio where he started most of his junior and senior year.  Team won Mid-American Conference championship in 1965 ( co-champs ) 1066 outright champs. Jim was co-captain his senior year.
    —Ran track his freshman year finishing 2nd at Ohio State in the 440.
Jim worked on Master’s in 1967-68 and then coached at Casey.
Jim was drafted in the Army and stationed at Ft. Dix where he worked in a Physical Therapy clinic and played on the base team as well in the respected Jersey Shore league.
After Army Jim coached 5 years at Virginia Tech as an assistant when VT was an independent and won the 1973 NIT in overtime over Digger Phelps Notre Dame team, defeating Alabama on the way to the championship game.
From Tech Jim went to East Tenn. State as an assistant for two years where team tied for the Ohio Valley Conference Championship.  Jim was then promoted to head coach for the next fouryears where his team had a 57-53 record while joining the Southern Conference.  Had great wins over Memphis State with Keith Lee and twice over South Carolina, once on the road when the legendary Frank McGuire was the coach.
    —Jim spent the next 12 years at Iowa State as Johnny Orr’s top assistant where the team qualified for 6 NCAA tournaments and two NIT tourneys. 129-32 at Hilton Coliseum while competing in the Big 8 now the Big 12.
After Coach Orr retired Jim became the Executive Director of the Iowa Games (Iowa Sports Foundation) where he received several honors for a successful Iowa Games as well as being featured on a national show on CNN about their program Lighten Up Iowa which had over 30,000 adults and 100,000 youth trying to impact Iowans on healthy living.  Jim served from 1994 to 2012 and then retired.
Jim also sat on the Board for Character Counts established by the late former Governor Robert D Ray.  The statewide award presented annually “Pursuing Victory with Honor” award is named after Jim as is the sportsmanship award at the Iowa Games. Jim was also awarded the 2009 Robert D Ray Person of Character award in the state of Iowa, concluded Dr. Biehler’s nomination.
    Quite impressive and deserving of a call from someone within the committee that he has been selected for induction.
    By the way I remind what Hallihan last fall (2019) to promote youth sports here when he sponsored the Character Counts program at T.J. Jackson’s church on East Cantrell Street which was well attended by former teammates of his from the 1962 state championship team.
    I will have more on this in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Leave a Comment