The Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame has evolved from just an idea four years ago, to the selection of its first centennial class members in 2012, to the unveiling on Wednesday of the architect's rendering of the hall of fame museum that will be in downtown Elizabethtown.
Mike Pollio, a former high school and college coach, is spearheading the drive to raise $4 million for the project. Former coaches Wayne Chapman, Hardin McLane and Steve Winkler are part of his fund-raising team.
Pollio announced Wednesday they have raised $350,000 since they began soliciting corporate and private donors in August.
"It's shameful that Indiana has a high school hall of fame and we don't," Pollio said.
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"Kentucky is the No. 1 basketball state, I don't care what anybody says. When you have back-to-back (NCAA) national champions, and when you draw 116,000 people for a state tournament when other states get 2,000 a game, that shows we are the best."
Chapman said he joined the cause "because I'm astonished we don't have a hall of fame already. What great high school basketball we have is taken for granted."
The target date for completion of the project is 2018, the 100th anniversary of the first state tournament.
The hall of fame building's first phase in Elizabethtown will be the conversion of an 1872 church into part of the museum. That will cost about $1.2 million and should be completed in 2015.
"It'll be the cathedral of high school basketball," Pollio quipped. "It makes sense because basketball is almost a religion in Kentucky."
Pollio said the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches, which came up with the idea of a hall of fame devoted strictly to high school hoops, "wants to make sure this won't be a staid museum. Once you see a ball, a pair of shoes and an old picture, you don't care about seeing them again. So there will be a lot more than just artifacts. We want it to be an interactive, hands-on place, and it will keep changing."
When the project was first announced, KABC executive director Ken Trivette said the hall of fame would accent the "essence of high school basketball and the life lessons it can teach."
Pollio noted that the history of the sport is also the history of Kentucky, dealing with issues such as integration and women's rights.
Pollio has approached state tourism officials about getting involved.
"We've got beautiful pictures of horses, bourbon, industry, agriculture, but what we're missing is what Kentucky is most famous for — basketball," Pollio said. "That should be a tourist attraction here."
Elizabethtown has thrown its support behind the hall of fame. The city's Convention and Visitors' Bureau has pledged $200,000.
Of the $4 million raised, $500,000 will be set aside as a service endowment to help cover operating costs.
So far 33 of the initial 100 Hall of Fame centennial honorees have been named.