PRINCETON, N.J. - Former Columbia basketball standouts Ellen Bossert '86CC and Alton Byrd '79CC were selected as part of the 16-member class of Legends of Ivy League Basketball, the league office announced Thursday morning.
Legends of Ivy League Basketball recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to — and left a lasting impact on — their respective basketball programs and universities. Each member of the Ancient Eight is represented by one male and one female honoree, as selected by their university athletic department.
“This Legends of Ivy League Basketball class exemplifies the impact of the Ivy League model and the path to lifelong success the experience enables,” said Executive Director Robin Harris. “We look forward to recognizing and celebrating this group’s extraordinary achievements, both on and off the court, at the Ivy League Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments in March.”
Four legends will be formally honored during each semifinal game at the 2018 Ivy League Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments on Saturday, March 10, at The Palestra in Philadelphia. A variety of ticket offerings—including multi-session passes ranging from $30 - $295 and single-session tickets ranging from $20 - $160—are on sale online at IvyMadness.com/Tickets or by calling the Ivy League Box Office at (215) 703-3231.
Ellen Bossert '86CC
Despite spending just two seasons in a Columbia uniform, Ellen Bossert left an indelible mark on the Lion program. She owns two of the top five single-season scoring (598, 470) and rebounding (355, 335) marks in program history and is one of eleven 1,000-point scorers for Columbia with 1,068 career points. Her .544 career field goal percentage paces all Lions and sits second all-time in the Ivy League.
In Bossert’s two seasons, the Lions had a 40-13 record, including a 21-6 mark in 1985-86, when Columbia finished third in the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Lions defeated Buffalo State, 89-73, in the third-place game behind Bossert’s 38 points—one shy of her single-game program record of 39 that still stands today. A year later, Columbia would begin Division I and Ivy League play.
Bossert, who spent a year and a half at Hamilton College, graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1986 and went on to earn her master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University in 1992. She was awarded Columbia’s G. Bjorkwell Prize for “achievement and contribution” to the University upon graduation in 1986, and was inducted into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. Bossert currently serves as the chief marketing officer for Cooledge Lighting Inc.—the global leader in luminous surface offerings—in Boston, Massachusetts.
Alton Byrd '79CC
A three-year captain for the Lions, Alton Byrd still holds the program’s career record with 526 assists, buoyed by the top-two single-season assist totals (210, 193) in Columbia history. He was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 1976-77 and earned First Team All-Ivy accolades in each of his three varsity seasons, behind an Ivy League career-best 7.41 assist average.
He earned the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award in 1978-79, as the nation’s most outstanding senior who is six-feet-or-shorter. After graduating from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and economics in 1979, Byrd was selected in the 10th round of the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Boston Celtics before he embarked on a decades-long professional basketball career in Great Britain, becoming known as Great Britain’s greatest ambassador of the game. He was named the Player of the Year in the British professional league after the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons and, after becoming a dual national in 1984, appeared in 18 games for England’s national team.
Off the court, Byrd has been the general manager of the London Monarchs of NFL Europe; vice president of strategic alliances and broadcasting for Sacramento Kings of the NBA and chief revenue officer of the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA. He was the chief executive officer of Clear Focus Communications—a management consulting company he founded—from 2002-13 and currently serves as the vice president of business operations for the Long Island Nets of the NBA G League. He was inducted into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.