Tom Tice’s resume is long with accomplishments: he won a state championship coaching football at Harrison in 1999, and led the Goblins to five Final Four appearances (and one in Huntsville in 1975); spent years on the sidelines at Huntsville and helped establish and expand programs at both Harrison and Huntsville as athletic director; and is in the Arkansas Activities Association’s Coaches Hall of Fame. And now, as of last Friday, he’s also a Hall of Fame athletic director.
Tice joined Little Rock Athletic Director Johnny Watson and Magnolia Athletic Director Marvin Lindsey as inductees into the administration association’s hall. Inducted this year into the Coaches Hall of Fame were Fayetteville coach Vance Arnold, Junction City coach David Carpenter, Dumas coach Van Holt, Lake Hamilton coach Karl Koonce, Marvell coach Ruby J. Morrow and Nashville coach Gary Segrest. Inducted into the Officials Hall of Fame were Jan Dannaway of Little Rock, Steve Harvey of Cave Springs, Duane Jackson of Mabelvale, Mark Johnson of Fayetteville, Curtis Tate of Jonesboro and Harold Valentine of Searcy.
Tice said he was familiar with many of the inductees, having worked with several of them in his 48 years of coaching and running athletics departments.
“The nicest thing for me was getting to listen to everyone else’s story,” Tice said. “Because everyone’s got a story.”
Tice has been coaching since he was 19 years old. A sophomore at the University of Arkansas, he started working part-time for Huntsville Schools in 1970, working in physical education and athletics. He was also the head seventh grade football and basketball coach, and assistant football and basketball coach on the high school teams. Before coaching in Huntsville, he spent a year as a scout for the Siloam Springs High School. After graduating in 1973, he was offered his first full-time job at Ramay Junior High, where he worked as the head junior high basketball coach, assistant football coach and defensive coordinator and assistant track coach.
Tice returned to Huntsville in 1974 after receiving a call from Charles Berry, and worked at Huntsville as its head football coach, head baseball coach and assistant boys and girls basketball coach until 1982, when, again at the urging of Berry, he took a job with Harrison, where he spent 29 years. His record there was 217-97-5, and included a state championship in 1999 and five Final Four appearances (he also had one at Huntsville in 1975). He was also a cheerleader coach for Harrison from 1989-1995, and helped lead the team to two state championships during that time.
Tice returned to Huntsville in 2011 to coach the Eagles, and would later take on responsibilities as the district’s athletic director. In 2016, he retired from the sidelines to focus full-time on the athletic director responsibilities. He retired from the district on June 30.
Friday wasn’t Tice’s first induction into the hall of fame. He was inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame in 2017, alongside former Eagles basketball coach Jim Stafford, though he said his most recent honor was a little different.
“It’s still all about the people who give you opportunities that got you where you are at this point. I think a lot about my mom and dad doing everything they could for me to help me have the career that I’ve had and get me started in the right direction,” he said. “And in the athletic director situation, I think about Huntsville and Harrison, where I spent all my career, and those administrators and those coaches and the supporters of all those different programs. Those are the people I think about, and I think about the opportunities we were able to give to boys and girls through athletics.”
Tice, recalling examples of leadership set for him by Berry, his football coach, Phil Phillips and the late Harry Shinn, also said he was proud of the opportunities he helped to create for others working alongside him throughout his career.
“I had 22 assistant coaches who have gone on to be head coaches,” he said. “I’d like to think that I helped them get their starts, and we had a lot of successes, and one of the things I wanted to do was give those coaches what they thought they needed in order to have success.”
For Berry, who made the trip to Hot Springs on Friday to witness Tice’s induction, it was an honor for him to see someone he coached not only in high school, but through his entire career, be recognized on the big stage.
“Sometimes you look back and think, ‘well, you’ve done some good things in your career,’ and I think this is one of them,” Berry said, about mentoring Tice from an early age. “This was a tremendous honor for me to have one of my students who has done so well in athletics and in the state of Arkansas.
“He is very deserving. I don’t know how they could pick anyone better than him.”
Tice entered retirement earlier this summer, retiring alongside his wife, JoAnn, who worked as a nurse at the Sonora Middle School.