Orville Gregory

Orville GregoryAdministrator/Coach • Inducted 1992

In 1969, Orville Gregory was hired as JCCC’s first athletic director and men’s basketball coach. Basketball fans know Dr. James Naismith as the “Father of Basketball”, but few know that former Johnson County Community College athletic director and men’s basketball coach Orville Gregory is the originator of the NJCAA National Women’s Basketball Championship.

The idea for the tournament was born, ironically, when the JCCC men’s basketball team missed its bid for participation in the 1973 men’s national tournament. If the men could feel such disappointment at not making the tournament, what must the women players feel when they didn’t even have a national tournament to go to? This was the thought that propelled Gregory to set up the first inquiries into the possibility of a women’s tournament.

Gregory conducted a survey of all NJCAA member colleges playing women’s basketball to see if there was any interest in a national junior college invitational tournament. The initial response was tentative - by December 1973, only seven teams had shown interest in the tournament. Then the idea caught on and other teams made inquiries. The new interest came too late for a 1974 tournament, but the decision was made to go ahead with the first national women’s tournament in 1975, on the Johnson County Community College campus. JCCC would host the tournament for eight years, from 1975 to 1982.

Gregory’s leadership in all areas earned him national respect, and because of that respect and longtime devotion to athletics, the Johnson County Community College Alumni Association established the Orville Gregory Award in 1991. Each year the award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to JCCC athletics, either through participation or support of the programs. In 1992, the JCCC Alumni Association bestowed upon Gregory its highest honor, inducting him into the JCCC Athletics Hall of Fame. In December 2001, he was inducted into the NJCAA Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

The first head coach in Johnson County Community College basketball history, Gregory was the driving force behind instilling a winning attitude and establishing JCCC as a national prominent program in the NJCAA. In his inaugural season, the Kansans posted a 7-16 mark overall. However, in just his second season of competition, Gregory led his team to a winning record and a fourth-place finish in the conference. That season also saw the first two players selected as all-conference performers. The Kansans continued to improve in his third season, as they topped 20 wins (23-9) and captured the East Jayhawk Conference title. Gregory then led the Kansans to a second-straight 20-win season in 1972-73, posting a school record 25 wins against only five losses. The Kansas were ranked the entire season and finished seventh in the final NJCAA basketball poll. In all, Gregory compiled a record of 72-42 in four seasons as head coach, and Johnson County won an East Jayhawk Conference title and advanced to NJCAA postseason play three times. In addition, Deon Kayhill became the first JCCC athlete to achieve All-American honors in 1972. Gregory also coached two All-Region VI picks and five earned all-conference recognition.

As a head coach at JCCC, Orville Gregory was a winner. As a producer of a quality physical education and athletic department, Gregory was an even bigger winner.

Gregory made a commitment to have a quality, broad-based program which expanded from its original sport of basketball in 1969, to 10 national caliber programs when he stepped down as director of athletics in 1984. Under his leadership, Gregory saw JCCC teams capture 17 conference titles, 16 Region VI titles and six teams finished among the country’s top 10.

Gregory was also responsible for hiring legendary JCCC coaches Jeff Simons (men’s basketball), Glen Moser (men’s and women’s tennis), Barbara Gill (women’s basketball, softball), Susan Brown (women’s volleyball) and Sonny Maynard (baseball).