Nichols will be inducted along with Ben Curtis (Kent State, men’s golf), Herb Deromedi (Central Michigan, football), Wayne Embry (Miami, men’s basketball), Karen Fitzpatrick (Ball State, field hockey) and Mike Schmidt (Ohio, baseball).
“It is only appropriate for our conference to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our former student-athletes and coaches, specifically these six individuals, and their achievements during their time competing in the Mid-American Conference,” said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, MAC commissioner. “We are honored to welcome them to the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame.”
Nichols’ name is synonymous with Toledo Rockets basketball excellence. He earned three varsity letters in basketball at Toledo as a player from 1950 to 1953, and served as assistant basketball coach for two seasons (1964-65) before serving as head basketball coach for 22 seasons (1965 to 1987).
His lifetime record at Toledo was 376-212 and still ranks today as the most wins by any basketball coach in Mid-American Conference history. Nichols led the Rockets to 20 consecutive winning seasons from 1965-66 through 1984-85. His 1966-67 squad posted a 23-2 record, the best record in school history, and was ranked No. 11 in the nation in the final UPI poll that season.
During his coaching career, Nichols led the Rockets to the NCAA Tournament in 1967, 1979 and 1980. The 1979 squad advanced to the Sweet 16 with a win over Big Ten Champion Iowa before falling to Notre Dame. Nichols also coached six Academic-All Americans and 18 Academic All-MAC honorees.
His teams earned five MAC titles, and he coached five MAC Players of the Year. Nichols also had a 5-0 record against Big Ten teams from 1976 to 1979, including wins over Michigan (twice), Ohio State, Indiana and Iowa. The victory over Indiana came in the inaugural game in Savage Arena, as Toledo upset the defending national champion Hoosiers, 59-57, snapping their 33-game win streak.
Nichols is the only four-time winner of the Ohio College Coach of the Year Award (1967, 1972, 1979, 1980). The Sylvania, Ohio, resident is a member of the Toledo Varsity T Hall of Fame and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame. In addition, the basketball floor at Savage Arena is named in his honor.
The MAC Hall of Fame was approved by the MAC Council of Presidents in 1987. The charter class was inducted in 1988 and subsequent classes were added in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994. After six induction classes, the MAC Hall of Fame maintained 52 members until it was reinstated this May. This year’s class brings the number of MAC Hall of Fame inductees to 58 individuals from seven classes.