Landmark and Legend
Memphis, TN
Here we note legends-in-their-own-time and landmarks as they transition into history

Dana Kirk
Dana Kirk
Dana KirkDana Kirk was brought to Memphis to be the head basketball coach of the Memphis State University Tigers men's basketball team in 1979. He took a team that was not
winning enough for the fan base and turned it into a city-wide cause for excitement. In doing so, he became a city-wide celebrity and a legend in his own time. His tenure ended with an investigation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and, eventually, criminal charges. Kirk died February 15, 2010, in Memphis of a heart attack at the age of 74.

Although Kirk was accused, and spent a few months in prison, of income tax evasion and obstruction of justice, those who were involved with the Memphis State athletic program say he certainly could coach. He had a winning record of 158 wins and only 58 losses while at the helm of the Tigers. In 1985, he lead his team to the "Final Four" semi-final round of the national college basketball tournament, losing to the team that would become the national champions. In just a couple years coming to Memphis, he had the team playing so well it was ranked first in the nation, the first time that had ever happened for a Memphis State basketball team. His MSU teams went to the NCAA tournament 5 times and was named Metro Conference Coach of the Year for the 1983-84 season and Basketball Weekly's Coach of the Year for the '81-82 season.

"He loved his players," said Greg Moore, who played for Kirk from 1979-82. "He really did."1

Allegations against Kirk included taking kickbacks from sponsors of various events and giving cash payments to a star player. The NCAA vacated the team's Final Four appearance in the 1985 tournament and Kirk spent 4 months in a federal prison on the tax charges.

After his firing in 1986, Kirk never coached college basketball again. Still, he remained a resident of the Memphis area and a fan of the Memphis basketball team.

1. Quoted from The Commercial Appeal, February 20, 2010.