Getting to Know Fritz Pollard

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Construction on for the new suite project at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center is expected to start within the next week and that may be a good thing since it looks like Head Coach Shaka Smart of the VCU men's basketball team will need a bigger office and trophy case.

For the second time in the past month, Smart was named the recipient of a national coaching honor, this time it was the Fritz Pollard Male Coach of the Year, handed out by the Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA). This came just two weeks after he was named the Coach of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

"These awards are very humbling for me because I know that without the 14 guys on that roster and the phenomenal coaching staff that I have, I wouldn't be in this position," Smart said. "I'm blessed to have had this opportunity and I want to stay hungry and focused on getting better with each passing day."

The BCA Coach of the Year Award is named in honor of Frederick "Fritz" Pollard, Brown Class of 1919, one of the nation's true African-American pioneers, and one of the greatest football players in Brown history. Pollard is recognized as the first African-American to play in the Rose Bowl, to earn All-American honors, to play quarterback at the professional level, and become a head coach in the NFL. Pollard was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Recipients of the award were nominated and selected by the BCA based on the following criteria; team success during the most recent season, team improvement from previous season, fulfillment of team potential and professional manner and attitude.

In just his second season at the helm of the Black & Gold, Smart guided the Rams to a historic NCAA Tournament run that gained the attention of the whole country. VCU reeled off five consecutive victories in the NCAA Tournament and reached the school's first-ever Final Four after defeating national power and top-seeded Kansas in the Southwest Regional Final .

The Madison, Wisc. native has made the most of his first two years with the Rams, recording 55 wins, the most of any two-year stretch in school history. During that span, the Black & Gold are an impressive 10-1 in postseason tournaments under Smart.

After the unforgettable NCAA Tournament run, Smart inked a new eight-year deal that will keep him and his wife Maya in Richmond a little longer.