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USA - Tributes paid after passing of former USA Basketball Chief William L Wall
COLORADO SPRINGS - USA Basketball are mourning the loss of former Executive Director William L Wall who was pivotal in leading the organisation into the modern era, having served for almost two decades.
A FIBA Order of Merit recipient, Wall was a driving force behind his nation's success at the Olympics and in other international competitions, often taking an active role in the preparation of the national teams.
The USA won numerous medals and titles during his tenure, including two Olympic gold medals, three FIBA World Championship titles and three Pan-American Games gold medals in the women’s game, as well as three gold medals in both the Olympics and the Pan-American Games in men’s basketball.
Wall headed up the host organisation for numerous competitions, including the first COPABA Junior Women's tournament in 1977 and inaugural FIBA World Championship for Junior Women in 1985, as well as the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis and the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle.
He was also inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004, which reflected the passion and support he showed for the women's game.
Current USA Basketball CEO/Executive Director Jim Tooley led the tributes, saying: "The entire USA Basketball family mourns the passing of Bill Wall.
"Bill was a treasure to the basketball community worldwide, someone who gave much more than he ever received back.
"His passion for basketball as a player, coach, official and as an administrator, was evident to anyone who met him, and his efforts helped grow the game to the popularity it enjoys today.
"He became this organisation's first executive director in 1975, and in the 18 years he served in that position he helped transition ABAUSA (Amateur Basketball Association of the United States of America) into USA Basketball.
"Under Bill's leadership, USA Basketball was recognised as one of the premiere national federations and Bill from the early years on was a true advocate for women's basketball.
"Bill Wall will be missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
"He also served on the U.S. Olympic Executive Committee (1984-88), the COPABA (Pan American Basketball Confederation) Executive Committee (1983-91), and the FIBA Eligibility Committee (1984-91)."
In addition to receiving the distinguished FIBA Order of Merit, Wall received the Edward S. Steitz Award for his contributions to international officiating and rules-making, as well as an Outstanding Contribution Award from the Atlanta Tip-Off Club.
FIBA Secretary General Emeritus Borislav Stankovic also paid tribute to Wall.
"This is a sad day for the FIBA family around the world," he said. "He was a really good friend of mine. He was the one creating USA Basketball. He made me discover US college basketball. I remember days and days in the cars driving from a basketball centre to another basketball court."