Feb. 10, 2003
Long-time Georgia Tech basketball coach John “Whack” Hyder, who won 292 games in 22 seasons at the helm of the Tech program, died Sunday at the age of 90.
Tech’s winningest basketball coach until surpassed in 1996 by Bobby Cremins, Hyder coached the Yellow Jackets from 1951-52 through 1972-73, compiling an overall record of 292-271 (.519). His tenure was highlighted by Georgia Tech’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1960 as well as two trips to the National Invitation Tournament.
“Coach Hyder was a special person who loved Georgia Tech very much,” said Cremins. “I often heard his former players talk about how much they loved playing for Coach Hyder. He was a great friend and a great help to me during my coaching career.”
Hyder’s most famous victory was on Jan. 8, 1955, when his Yellow Jackets defeated Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky powerhouse, 59-58, to end the Wildcats’ 129-game home winning streak. That was the first of Hyder’s three victories over top-ranked Kentucky squads.
Coach Hewitt with legendary coach Wack Hyder.
Hyder coached Tech’s first two all-America players in Roger Kaiser and Rich Yunkus and was twice named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year. He is a member of the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame and the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
“He was the best thing in the world for me,” said Kaiser, who went on to an outstanding coaching career of his own, including four NAIA national titles at West Georgia and Life University.
“He had so much patience in dealing with his players, and you could tell how much he cared for each of us as individuals. Because of that, we respected him so much and wanted to play that much harder for him.”
Born July 10, 1912 in Lula, Ga., Hyder was one of the best all-around athletes in Georgia Tech history, lettering in basketball, baseball, cross country and track. He also earned a freshman letter in football, the sport in which he received his scholarship to Georgia Tech because there were no basketball scholarships in those days.
After graduating from Georgia Tech in 1937, he signed a professional baseball contract and played three years in the New York Yankees farm system.
After a stint in the U.S. Navy in World War II, Hyder returned to Tech in 1946. He was hired as an assistant basketball coach by Director of Athletics William Alexander, the same man who had offered him a scholarship to Tech after watching him play basketball for Monroe A&M prep school. He served as assistant coach under Roy McArthur until he was elevated to head coach prior to the 1951-52 season.
Funeral services for Coach Hyder are scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m. at H.M Patterson & Son Spring Hill Funeral Home (1020 Spring Street, Phone: 404.876.1022). The family will receive visitors Tuesday evening from 6-8 p.m., also at Patterson’s.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to the John “Whack” Hyder Scholarship Fund, c/o Alexander-Tharpe Fund, Inc., 150 Bobby Dodd Way, N.W., Atlanta, GA 30332.
Coach Hyder is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Julia and Pat Killimett; son and daughter-in-law Tom and Carole Hyder; four grandchildren: Cam, Kevin and Clay Killimett and Andrew Hyder; and brothers Ralph Hyder of Decatur, Ga., and Fred Hyder of Columbus, Ga. –30–