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Ray Crowe Excellence in Leadership Award

Ray Crowe

The Indiana High School Athletic Association annually presents the Ray Crowe Excellence in Leadership Award to an individual on the merits of their career achievements, civic contributions, and community legacy, and who exemplifies the highest standards of sportsmanship, ethical conduct, and moral character. 

Crowe (1915-2003) served his community as a basketball coach, educator, school administrator, and later a politician and government official. 

Best known as the head basketball coach of Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis in the 1950s, Crowe established what would become one of the greatest eras of Indiana high school basketball while serving as a pillar of Indiana’s African-American community. 

In only seven years as basketball coach at Crispus Attucks High School, an all-Black India­napolis school, the late Ray Crowe coached his teams to four Final Four appearances, a record three consecutive state championship games and back-to-back state titles in 1955 and 1956. 

In the face of blatant racism and discrimination from opposing teams, fans and game officials, Crowe taught his Crispus Attucks basketball players to play with discipline and sportsman­ship and prohibited trash talking and complain­ing to officials.

He became the first African-American coach to win the state championship in 1955 while Crispus Attucks became the first African-Amer­ican school in the nation to win an open state title. The following year, Crowe guided Attucks to the Hoosier State's first-ever undefeated season in 1956 (31-0).

The Indiana High School Athletic Association is proud to honor the memory of the late Indiana legend with this annual award recognizing excellence in leadership. 

2022 – Ray Crowe
2023 – Earl Smith, Jr. 
2024 – Cassel White 


“The games won, the championships, those things are for the moment and then they are sweet memories. The enduring satisfaction has been watching young men turn their basketball experiences into successful lives away from the court. I don’t know what higher honor a coach could ever ask for.” 

Ray Crowe 


Ray Crowe Attucks Five
This iconic Indiana high school basketball photo shows Crispus Attucks head coach Ray Crowe (holding ball) with his 1955 starters (l to r) Oscar Robertson, Sheddrick Mitchell, Willie Merriweather, William Hampton, and Bill Scott (Photo courtesy Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame).