"I'm certainly excited and pleased for a lot of reasons," Landers said. "It really hasn't hit me and sunk in yet, and I really don't think it will until the ceremony in Knoxville early next year. I understand what it means. It means that I've been fortunate to be at a place where you can succeed at the highest level. I've been fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of people -- coaches, staff and players -- who could make that happen. That's where it comes from. I'm not of the impression that it's anything that any one person did."
Landers began his head coaching career when he was just 22 years old at Roane State Community College in Harriman, Tenn. He led Roane to an 82-21 record and a pair of top-10 national junior college finishes in four seasons.
In April 1979, Landers was only 26 years old when he was hired as the first -- and still only -- full-time women's basketball head coach at the University of Georgia. The Lady Bulldogs had compiled a woeful 37-85 record in six seasons of competition before Landers' arrival, but he immediately reversed Georgia's fortunes. In Landers' second season, the Lady Bulldogs won the 1981 WNIT national title. The next year, Georgia participated in the first-ever NCAA Tournament in women's basketball. The following spring, the Lady Dogs advanced to the 1983 Final Four. Georgia then played for the NCAA title in 1985.
The Lady Dogs have had 27 consecutive winning seasons under Landers and are ranked No. 4 in the all-time Associated Press poll. He is 657-208 in 27 seasons in Athens, an average of 24.3 victories per year.
Georgia also has been invited to 23 of 25 editions of the NCAA Tournament, the third-best tally of any school in the nation. The Lady Dogs have reached five Final Fours, 10 "Elite Eights" and 16 "Sweet 16s." Georgia's tallies of NCAA Tourney wins (45) and games played (68) both rank fourth nationally.
Many of Landers' players at Georgia have gone onto successful careers both in basketball and other professions. All told, 46 of 48 (.958) four-year letterwinners have earned their degrees. Seventeen Lady Bulldogs have gone on to play in the WNBA, including Deanna Nolan, the MVP of the 2006 WNBA Finals. Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain were the backbone of virtually every U.S. National team for more than a decade. Edwards played in five Olympic Games, winning four Gold Medals, while McClain was a member of three U.S. Olympic squads.
"Coach Landers has proven himself to be one of the most successful coaches of all time," Edwards said. "The game of women's basketball, especially in the SEC, would not be the same without him. I don't think the game would have the same zeal or lust or competitiveness it has without Coach Landers. He brings such intensity to the game. The qualities and characteristics he instills in his players go far and beyond any other coach I've ever hard. I'm so happy for him. I've always thought I be happiest for him when he won a national championship, but I think this may be even better. This speaks to his overall success instead of that of one team. It's not like he's dead and gone, which is what this sounds like I'm talking about. He's got a lot of fire left in him, and I hope he'll continue coaching for many years to come so he can have the same influence on other players that he's had on me."
Landers will be Georgia's second inductee into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. McClain was enshrined in April 2006.