Friends of Basketball
Year Inducted: 1995
Category: Friends of Basketball
Schools / Organizations:
Wet Frankfort High School
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
Neil Dillard had a distinguished high school basketball playing career at West Frankfort under IBCA Hall of Fame coach Harlan Hodges.
Dillard has been an avid and enthusiastic sports fan for both high school athletics in southern Illinois and also the Southern Illinois University Salukis. A loyal supporter of the West Frankfort Redbirds during the 1950s until he moved to Carbondale, where Dillard backed the Terriers for more than 30 years.
Dillard has been a Saluki fan since 1948, attending all home games. He and wife Mary Ellen sat in the same SIU Arena seats beginning in 1964. Often Neil would see eight to ten road games and regardless of time, meet the basketball team when it arrives at the airport. Several times he removed snow and ice from the players’ and coach’s cars in the wee hours of the morning at the airport parking lot.
Dillard has served as mayor of Carbondale and arranged special recognition for players and coaches for outstanding achievements. Dillard held memberships in both the Saluki and Terrier Booster Clubs.