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Herb Reinhard inducted into Gulf South Hall of Fame

Jun. 3—PENSACOLA, Fla. — Retiring Valdosta State athletics director was inducted into the Gulf South Conference Hall of Fame May 30.

"I have long believed that any of us who are fortunate enough to be in leadership have just one goal, and that is to leave it better than we found it," said Valdosta State President Dr. Richard Carvajal in his introduction. "There is absolutely no question that Herb has made VSU better. He has made the GSC better. In fact, I believe he has made all of college athletics better."

Reinhard thanked Gulf South Commissioner Matt Wilson and the Hall of Fame committee.

"When I started 32 years ago, I had a philosophy that I was going to be at every single VSU home athletic event," he said. The purpose was support every athlete.

Reinhard estimated 4,500 games in that stint, roughly 2,700-2,800 being home games. Astonishingly, he's only missed about 20. He's only missed three football games, regardless of location.

"The only way I could do that," Reinhard said, "was to have a family that understood that commitment, why we did it and bought into it with me." They've been with him every step of the way, he said, attending nearly as many games as him.

The Hall of Fame plaque with his name on it, said Reinhard, should be much, much larger to include everyone else's name who deserves to be there. "Presidents, cabinet members, coaches, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning staff, sports information staff, faculty athletic reps and my athletic administration team."

As much as Valdosta State teams have won, Reinhard said his wins are in lives impacted. He said he will enjoy watching his successor as athletic director, Troy Katen, build even more.

Reinhard said it is "challenging times" for colleges and their athletics. Strong leadership is necessary for what he considers its core mission: "Provide young people the opportunity to reach their potential on the field or court and int he classroom and give them the opportunity to learn the life lessons that athletics provides. That, I believe, is worth far more than any NIL deal."

He said he was confident in the Gulf South's leadership.

Reinhard was the lsat of the 2024 class inducted. Carvajal said it was "My tremendous honor" to introduce Reinhard.

Carvajal talked about Reinhard's start in college athletics as a placekicker at Florida A&M. Rising through the ranks there, he was named Valdosta State's director of athletics in 1992.

"He took over a program back then," said Carvajal, "that by all accounts that was considered to be in something of a disorganized state ... He proceeded to put it on the national map of intercollegiate athletics and, in turn, played a big role in helping so many others make the GSC the nation's preeminent D-II conference."

Carvajal noted that during Reinhard's run VSU has become known as "a cradle of coaches" where many big names have developed. He listed many: Thomas Macera, VSU's softball coach who reached 1,000 wins this season; John Hansen, whose men's tennis team won the program's third national title in May; University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart; Will Muschamp, now at Georgia and has head coached Florida and South Carolina; Hal Mumme and the late Mike Leach, two of the originators of the Air Raid offense; Chris Hatcher, Kerwin Bell and David Dean, who all won national football titles with the Blazers; and Gary Goff who reached the national finals in football.

"His record of success during his time is truly unmatched," Carvajal said. During Reinhard's 32-years in charge of the athletics program, the Blazers have won 51 Gulf South championships. Before Reinhard, they won four. If that wasn't enough, said Carvajal, VSU won eight of its nine national titles.

The 2024 men's tennis national title Carvajal likened to a walk-off grand slam, as it happened in Reinhard's last ever athletic event.

"Beyond the wins and losses, it is ultimately the people he impacted," Carvajal said. "Here in the GSC, he was your competitor. But for many of you, he was also your teacher, he was your mentor."

Calling his honors too many to list, Carvajal instead focused on a few recent ones. Reinhard is a finalist for the Gulf South's Gold Award. Valdosta State inducted him into its Athletics Hall of Fame and named the lobby of The Complex for him.

Reinhard joined former Delta State quarterback Josh Bright, men's basketball coach Bill Jones (Jacksonville State, North Alabama), Alabama Huntsville softball player Kristin Spencer Spearman and West Florida softball player Krissy Styrna in the Class of 2024.