The court and seating area at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Stubblefield Center will soon bear the name “Gayle Kaundart Arena,” following the adoption of a resolution by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees honoring the legendary basketball coach.
In the resolution passed Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, in Little Rock, the Board of Trustees stated it “desires to manifest publicly and enduringly its profound esteem for Coach Gayle Kaundart and its deep appreciation for Coach Kaundart’s many and varied contributions to the Westark Community College, now University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.”
Coach Kaundart’s highly decorated coaching career spanned four decades, including 13 years as the men’s basketball coach at Westark Community College, during which time he led the Lions to a record of 379-87 with an .813 winning percentage and an average of 29.2 wins per season. He served 37 combined years as a head coach at the collegiate and high school levels with a record of 954-299, a winning percentage of .761, and an average of 25.8 wins per season, including five high school state championships.
The Alma native also led the Lions to eight NJCAA Tournament appearances, nine Bi-State Conference titles, seven Region II Conference titles, 11 Arkansas Junior College State Championships and one National Junior College Championship in 1986, which was the first in school history and the first national collegiate basketball title for the state of Arkansas.
Before his tenure at Westark, Kaundart strengthened Fort Smith Northside High School’s basketball program into a state powerhouse, coaching the Grizzlies from 1955-1974. His numerous honors include induction into the UAFS Athletics Hall of Fame, the NJCAA Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the College of the Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame, as well as accolades including the Curtis King Lifetime Achievement Award, Lowell Manning Outstanding Coach Award, National Junior College Coach of the Year Award, College of the Ozarks Alumni Achievement Award and eight Region II Coach of the Year Awards.
The resolution further proclaimed, “The Board formally expresses its high regard for and lasting gratitude to Coach Kaundart for his exemplary contributions to the Westark Community College and the state of Arkansas by naming the basketball arena at the Stubblefield Center the Gayle Kaundart Arena. With this naming we honor Coach Gayle Kaundart for his extraordinary contributions to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, the entire state of Arkansas and our nation.”
An official naming ceremony will take place this spring at UAFS to celebrate the naming and honor Coach Kaundart’s enduring impact on the region.