Booneville, Miss. - Bonner Arnold's name has been attached to the building originally dedicated as "The Northeast Mississippi Junior College Gymnasium" since 1973.
Arnold, who earned the nickname "The Dean of Junior College Coaches," was celebrated by Northeast after constructing the men's basketball program from the ground up as one of the college's original staff members in 1948. His teams finished as national runner-up twice and won multiple conference championships over the course of his 26 years in Booneville, which included a stint as athletic director.
Some 45 years after Arnold was permanently acknowledged for his numerous contributions to the institution, Northeast is set to do the same once again for another hall of fame coach that has equally impacted the school for the better.
The floor inside Bonner Arnold Coliseum is officially being named the "Ricky G. Ford Court" in honor of Northeast's current president and national championship winning women's basketball headman plus athletic director.
"I am privileged to be honored simply because of the tremendous student-athletes that have played under my direction," said Ford. "I am so appreciative of each and every one of them just as I am of our employees that make up the face of Northeast.
"I must say thank you to all the loyal fans that have supported the Lady Tigers over the years. We have developed so many friendships that will forever be treasured. This is certainly a highlight of my career and I will be forever grateful."
A dedication ceremony will take place at the conclusion of Northeast's women's basketball game against visiting Arkansas Baptist College, which should be at approximately 7 p.m., on Tuesday, November 27.
This commemoration is being held in conjunction with the annual Lady Tigers for Life night. All former women's basketball athletes, especially those that played for Ford, are invited to attend this special event.
"It's just a great honor for him and our program," said Lady Tigers head coach Brenda Mayes, who was an All-State player under Ford from 1981-82. "He did a lot of things to put Northeast on the map. He's humble about everything that he does and wants the best for our students. So I think this is a great opportunity for him to be recognized."
Ford built a dynasty out of a program that was less than a decade removed from its return after a 17-year hiatus that was forced when the Magnolia State's junior colleges collectively stopped sponsoring the sport.
The Pine Grove native accumulated an overall record of 588-226 for a winning percentage of .722 during 30 years at the helm of the Lady Tigers. He had winning seasons 25 times, including 21 straight to begin his career in the City of Hospitality.
He captured 15 Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division titles, nine state championships and three National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 crowns while commanding the Lady Tigers from 1981-2011.
Ford's name gracing the floor coincides with a complete court redesign and is the latest in a round of renovations to historic Bonner Arnold Coliseum, which opened for its first basketball games in December 1951 after being constructed by Northeast's trades training program with support from the Prentiss County Board of Supervisors.
The design features Northeast's new "NE" logo at center court with the Tiger head logo in the background as a shadow. The floor features three shades of color, including black, dark grey and light grey, with tiger stripes surrounding the baseline.
"Anybody that has stepped foot (into Bonner Arnold Coliseum) has been like, 'Wow!'" Tigers head coach Cord Wright said. "I think we knocked it out of the park. Obviously our facility has got a lot of tradition behind it and we continue each and every year to make it look better. I think this put the icing on the cake.
"(Ford's) track record speaks for itself. His banners speak for themselves on a daily basis when you look in that gym. Everything that Northeast basketball is about, he has his hand prints on it. It was good for us to finally put his name on the court to recognize him for everything that he's done not only in basketball, but as an ambassador for Northeast."
Renovations to Bonner Arnold Coliseum over the last several years include the addition of the Earline "Woodsie" Woods Hospitality Suite plus new coaches offices, concessions, restrooms, bleachers at both the north and south ends of the arena, scoreboards and video scorers tables.
Ford's run at the pinnacle of not just the state of Mississippi, but the entire country began in earnest during the 1984-85 campaign when the Lady Tigers secured their first state championship since 1951.
Northeast raced through the regular season unbeaten one year later before winning the MACJC State Tournament. The Lady Tigers went on to beat Northwest Mississippi Community College in its own gymnasium to clinch Ford's inaugural berth to the NJCAA National Tournament.
The Lady Tigers continued their success and moved into the national championship contest against Odessa (Texas) Junior College. The Lady Wranglers put a wrinkle into Northeast's plans for perfection, though, with an 80-69 win in the title tilt.
However, Ford and the Lady Tigers found themselves right back at the NJCAA National Tournament the following season and in the same identical circumstances with divisional, state and regional crowns in tow and an undefeated campaign once again on the line.
This time Northeast got the job done by winning what is still its only national title in any sport. Ford and his team celebrated a flawless 34-0 year with a 68-64 victory over St. Gregory's (Okla.) College in the 1987 championship game.
Ford returned to the NJCAA National Tournament for the last time during the 2005-06 season. His Lady Tigers pieced together a 24-6 overall record and with another NJCAA Region 23 crown finished at No. 21 in the final countrywide rankings after their trip to the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kan.
He instructed 10 NJCAA All-Americans and sent dozens of student-athletes to the four-year level at locations such as Auburn (Ala.) University, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Memphis (Tenn.), the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University.
Ford is a member of the NJCAA, MACJC and Northeast sports halls of fame. He played for the men's basketball program at Northeast himself from 1973-75 under the watch of another legendary coach in Kenneth Lindsey.
He and his wife LuAnne have four children, Aaron, Lauren, Suzanne and Ben, and seven grandchildren. Ford was selected as Northeast's tenth president in 2015 and is in his 37th year of service to the college overall.