B.B. Lees still collecting honors for sporting life

If we tried to put a face to Eastern New Mexico University athletics, it would look a lot like B.B. Lees.

No individual in the school's history has brought more prestige and respect.

Lees, 81, has battled serious health issues the past four years, but we caught him leaving his Portales home on his way to the golf course late Thursday morning. "I wanna see if I can still hit the ball," he proclaimed.

We're guessing most of the community is happy to see him back in the swing of things. So are we.

Lees was recently honored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for his work with the NCAA Division II basketball tournament, which he chaired from 1990 to 1993.

So this seems a good time to once again remember his contribution to the Greyhound Pack, and to student athletes around the country.

Lees came to New Mexico from Big Spring, Texas, in 1948 to play halfback for Eastern New Mexico College's football team.

After graduating, he coached in Portales and Clovis schools before Eastern hired him in 1956 as a physical education instructor and assistant football coach.

He stayed more than 37 years, coaching multiple sports and overseeing the athletics department for 19 years. He retired, for the second time, in 1997.

He's been inducted into the ENMU Athletics Hall of Honors and hall of fames at Big Spring, Texas, High School, the Lone Star Conference and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Perhaps Lees' greatest individual success came as coach of the university golf team from 1965 to 1975. The Greyhounds won district championships each of those years and finished in the top 10 in the NAIA national tournament 10 times.

Lees is among just 21 members of the NAIA golf hall of fame, nine of them coaches, since it was established in 1966.

His greatest career accomplishment, he said, was helping ENMU become a part of the Lone Star Conference.

Eastern's athletics history has a lot of bright spots worth remembering, from Olympic athletes to national championships in golf, rodeo and basketball.

B.B. Lees was a part of them all, and it's nice to see he's still receiving recognition richly deserved.

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