Finis Horne, the Father of Lander Athletics, passes away

June 06, 2013
Finis Horne
Coach Finis Horne (center) is joined by Coach Chipper Bagwell (left) and Jeff May on Horne's 75th birthday celebration at Horne Arena. When Horne retired in 1997, Bagwell succeeded him as basketball coach, while May followed as athletic director. (File photo by Bob Stoner)

Finis Horne, Lander University's longtime men's basketball coach and athletics director, passed away Sunday morning at his home. He was 77.

  • Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 8, at the First Baptist Church in Greenwood. Memorials can be made to the Finis Horne Scholarship, Lander Foundation, 320 Stanley Ave., Greenwood, S.C. 29649.
  • On Monday, June 10, from 5-8 p.m., there will be a "Friends of Finis Horne" gathering at Fin 'N' Filet in Greenwood. Proceeds from the sale of food, beverages and a commemorative Finis Horne T-shirt will go toward the Finis Horne Scholarship at Lander.

Horne started the first Lander men's basketball team in 1968, then, after becoming athletic director in 1971, he began adding other sports to the upstart intercollegiate program. Under his guidance, the program grew to 11 teams.

After earning 491 victories in 29 seasons, Horne retired as coach and athletic director on June 30, 1997.

Horne, who was inducted into the Lander Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 9, 1999 and the S.C. Athletics Hall of Fame in June 2011, established himself as the winningest active coach in South Carolina and recorded a 15-12 record during his final year.

Following a 21-9 record in the 1993-94 season, Horne was named the Peach Belt Athletic Conference Coach of the Year when the then-Senators won the PBAC Tournament and earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Division II National Tournament.

In 1994-95 the Senators did it again. Lander finished the season 21-9, won the PBAC tournament and advanced to the national tournament.

While a member of the NAIA, Lander won District 6 regular season titles in 1977-78, 1978-79 and 1979-80, and reached the District 6 tournament championship game in 1976-77, 1979-80, 1980-81, 1987-88 and 1988-89.

Horne was voted the NAIA District 6 Coach of the Year in 1972-73, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1987-88 and 1989-90; and the NAIA District 6 Administrator of the Year in 1986. He served as vice chairman of District 6 from 1974-80 and chair from 1981-86.

Horne was voted the NAIA Palmetto State Conference Coach of the Year in 1989-90; the NAIA Area 7 Coach of the Year in 1980; and the PBAC Coach of the Year in 1993-94.

Coach Horne was married to Dr. Bettie Horne and they have twin daughters. Nina Horne Peterson lives in Oakland, Calif., with her husband, David, and daughter, Emma. Sabra Keefe lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband John. Horne is a veteran of the US Navy, and a member of VFW, Kiwanis Club and the Greenwood First Baptist Church.

Born April 26, 1936, in Kentucky, Horne earned an associate of arts degree from Bethel (Ky.) College in 1963, a bachelor's degree in physical education from Campbellsville (Ky.) College in 1966 and a master's in physical education from Western Kentucky University in 1968. He has done postgraduate work in counseling at the University of South Carolina.