Introduced Wednesday afternoon as the new head coach of the Lebanon High girls basketball team, the Gallatin native spoke of family, hard work, achieving greatness and winning championships to members of his new team.
“Good is ordinary,” Inman told the assembled Devilettes, “I want each of you to become great . . . as a person, a student and a basketball player. You must understand one thing. I can’t take you any further than you want to go. Bottom line, there has to be a commitment on your part. Greatness comes with a price.”
Inman led Eastern Kentucky to five OVC regular-season titles and two tournament championships in 20 seasons as the Lady Colonels’ head coach. He led EKU to the only two NCAA tournament appearances in school history and ranks as Eastern’s all-time winningest basketball coach with 319 victories.
The Gallatin native began his collegiate coaching career at Middle Tennessee State, an OVC member until 2000. In eight years at the Murfreesboro school, Inman won more than 68 percent of his games, was named OVC Coach of the Year three times, led MTSU to six OVC regular-season championships and four tournament titles.
In his last four seasons on the Blue Raiders’ bench, he led the program to four straight OVC regular season and tournament championships and four straight NCAA tournament appearances.
He compiled an overall record of 161-73 at Middle Tennessee. Inman went 73-12 in OVC games, losing only four conference games his final five seasons.
Inman concludes his career with more wins as an OVC women’s basketball head coach than any other in conference history. He is one of only two coaches in OVC history to win an NCAA tournament game, garnering two victories in the Big Dance. His overall record stands at 480-317 (.602) and he posted a 277-134 (.674) mark in regular-season OVC games.
When Inman accepted the head coaching position at EKU, prior to the 1988-89 season, the program had only posted a winning conference record twice in the 11-year history of the OVC. After posting a 6-6 record in league games his second season, Inman led Eastern to winning conference records in 12 of the next 14 seasons.
Three years into his tenure, Inman became the first coach to earn the OVC Coach of the Year award at two different schools. He took home the honor in 1991 after leading Eastern Kentucky to its first winning season in six years.
Inman led the Lady Colonels to their first conference championship in 1995 and won his second OVC Coach of the Year award. The team won 19 games and tied with three other OVC schools for the league title. Two years later, EKU won its first outright OVC regular-season championship and, in the process, established a league record for conference victories with 16, while also setting a program mark with 24 overall wins.
The 1996-97 edition finished 24-6 overall and 16-2 in OVC play. The Lady Colonels defeated Tennessee Tech by four points for their first-ever OVC tournament championship and earned the program’s first trip to the NCAA tournament.
The following year, Inman led Eastern Kentucky to its third regular-season conference championship in four years. In 2002, EKU won its fourth conference banner and played in the WNIT. Inman led his squad to an overtime road win over Missouri State in the first round for the school’s first-ever postseason tournament victory and a trip to the WNIT Sweet 16.
In 2004-05, Inman earned his eighth OVC Coach of the Year honor while leading the Lady Colonels to both the conference regular-season and tournament titles, and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Eastern’s program has been one of consistency since the 1990s, finishing in the top half of the league in all but five seasons. Over the past 15 seasons, Eastern has an impressive record of 298-198, a .600 winning percentage, and has posted six 20-plus win seasons.
In addition to remodeling two arenas with a host of championship banners, many student-athletes have earned individual honors under Inman’s guidance. At EKU and Middle Tennessee combined, 30 different players earned 52 all-conference selections during Inman’s career, including 27 first team honorees. A total of 23 players were named to the OVC all-freshman team. Inman has coached four OVC Players of the Year and three OVC Freshmen of the Year.
In addition to success on the court, Inman’s teams were equally successful in the classroom. With Inman leading the program, 100 percent of incoming freshmen that completed their eligibility have earned a degree.
Inman’s coaching career began at Gallatin Junior High in 1970 where he went 51-4 in three seasons.
Inman is a graduate of Austin Peay State University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1970. He received his master’s degree from Tennessee State University in 1978. Inman is married to the former Bobbie Gene Follis of Shelbyville. They have one son, Jody, and two daughters, Latrice and Tiffany.