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Henson’s life leaves lasting legacy


Lou Henson earned a spot in the College Basketball Hall of Fame for a coaching career that spanned 42 seasons and three universities, as well as two Final Four berths.

His death July 25 at age 88 sparked an outpouring from friends and fans all over the country.

He coached New Mexico State University to 289 basketball victories during two different stints (1966-75 and 1997-2005). In between, he coached the University of Illinois to 423 wins. Add that to the 66 victories at Hardin-Simmons, his first coaching job, and the total was 779.

Perhaps more than the victories, though, he and Mary, his wife of 65 years were beloved for their engaged community service in two different cities, Las Cruces and Champaign, Illinois.

"Our university and our entire community have lost a remarkable man," said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. "I have such fond memories, when I was a student at NMSU, of watching Lou Henson lead the Aggies all the way to the Final Four. I will always remember those games, and I will always remember how he cared about our community and about our people."

"Aggie Nation's hearts are heavy today," said NMS Athletics Director Mario Moccia. "We have lost an Aggie icon. Coach Henson may be gone, but the memories he provided us with and the legacy he created will last forever. He was responsible for almost 800 wins in the record book, and the most memorable event in our university's history of athletics: the trip to the 1970 Final Four. Coach Henson's legacy was equally felt off the court in the lives he touched – those of his former players, people on this campus and friends in Las Cruces and around the state of New Mexico. We are all better for whatever time we were privileged to spend with Lou. Coach made everyone feel like a friend."

"Lou Henson was the epitome of class and a one-of-a-kind coach," said NMSU Head Men’s Basketball Coach Chris Jans. "What he did for New Mexico State and the sport of college basketball is something that few before or since have accomplished. He is revered by two fan bases, which is extremely rare in our business."

Lou Henson