home sitesearch sitemap contact fan about
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:

Men’s Basketball: UL coach Beryl Shipley enters Louisiana Hall of Fame

Bobby Ardoin, The Advertiser, June 22, 2014


Members of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame met with the media Thursday. Pictured are (from left): Wright Waters, Joe Macaluso, Tynes Hildebrand, Delores (Mrs. Beryl) Shipley, Venus Lacy, Lionel Washington, Pete Boudreaux and Shane Reynolds. Not pictured: Alan Faneca, Tom Benson, and the family of Richard “Moon” Ducote.(Photo: Adrian Demery, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame)

Beryl Shipley was remembered Saturday night as a basketball pioneer with a determined and forceful personality that helped him withstand many of the challenges he faced in 16 years as a college basketball coach.

Shipley, who was among eight coaches and players inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, was remembered by his former University of Southwestern Louisiana assistant Tom Cox as the man who "integrated the Deep South in college basketball."

The sold out crowd of about 650 at the Hall of Fame Events Center, was told by Cox that Shipley was someone who was targeted by some for integrating his then USL basketball team in 1966 during a time when no other Louisiana and southern schools were comprised of all-white players.

"No one except Beryl Shipley could have faced the obstacles and the opposition," said Cox, who introduced Shipley.

Cox said stiff opposition to Shipley’s decision to integrate the Cajuns’ basketball program was initiated at the time by the State Board of Education and assisted by the Gulf State Conference.

Both the Board and the conference, however, didn’t realize then who they were dealing with, said Cox, Shipley’s assistant for eight seasons.

"Beryl Shipley was the guy who never gave up or never gave in. He (Shipley) was the dog that didn’t stay on the porch," said Cox.

Cox said Shipley’s induction, which took nearly 40 years following his exit from the university in 1973, was long overdue.

"His accomplishments qualified him for the Hall of Fame long before he walked off the (coaching) stage. No sports hall of fame would be complete without Beryl Shipley," Cox said.

Shipley’s teams won 70 percent of their games from 1957-73, but Cox said one of Shipley’s major contributions was as an innovator.

"He’s the father of modern-day basketball in the state of Louisiana," Cox.

In order to best describe Shipley, Cox quoted some of the lyrics from the old Frank Sinatra song, "I Did It My Way."

Cox especially emphasized the final two lines of that song: "I took the blow and did it my way."

One of Shipley’s more poignant occasions came as he was exiting as the school’s basketball coach, Cox said.

Cox remembered when Shipley called the Southland Conference a "Mickey Mouse" league and after the league demanded an apology for what Shipley said.

"Beryl did that, but he issued an apology to Mickey Mouse," Cox said.

Shipley’s brother, Tom Shipley, presented his brother.

Tom Shipley said Beryl Shipley’s competitive nature was developed during his early years when he and his brothers played neighborhood sports with a football made out of rolled up socks and basketball goals made out of wire.

Cox said much has been written about the university "turning its back" on Shipley before and after an NCAA investigation of the program unfolded in 1972 and 1973.

That’s no longer the case, Cox said, as the school under the leadership of UL president Joseph Savoie, athletic director Scott Farmer and current basketball coach Bob Marlin have given Shipley the respect he deserves.

Marlin said in a telephone interview that he became friendly with Shipley when Marlin became the Cajuns’ basketball coach in March, 2010.

Although Marlin had about 11 months to interact with Shipley, Marlin said it was quite a mosaic of memorable moments.

Marlin remembers the initial part of his first season, when Shipley volunteered some informal coaching assistance.

"We were something like 3-14 at the time and I went to meet coach (Shipley) at his house.

"Coach was there at the door and he met me there. I remember him saying when he let me in, ‘Having a rough time, aren’t you boy?’"

Marlin said he and Shipley sat down at the kitchen table and Shipley starting drawing up plays, discussing his basketball philosophy and showing Marlin how he played offense and defense.

"We sat there and coach was writing all this down on sheets of paper. I took those with me, used some of it and I still have those sheets in my office," Marlin said.

Marlin said his relationship with Shipley became something special.

"I think we got so close because I reached out to him and made him feel part of our program when the other coaches maybe didn’t" said Marlin.

In January, 2011, Marlin hosted a first Shipley reunion, which included many of Shipley’s ex-players.

There was a Friday night reception at the school’s alumni house and the next night Shipley’s players were honored at halftime game against Louisiana-Monroe.

Shipley was too ill at that time to attend both events, but a taped message from Shipley was beamed on the Cajundome’s giant midcourt screen.

Marlin said he knew somewhat vaguely about Shipley’s coaching career until Marlin arrived in Lafayette.

"I didn’t know about the (NCAA) investigation and that they had gotten in trouble. I didn’t realize all the history involved," Marlin said.

Former Northwestern State basketball coach Tynes Hildebrand, who was inducted along with Shipley, remembered coaching against Shipley during the 1960’s and 70’s.

Hildebrand said in an interview Saturday night that was a special era of college basketball, when most Louisiana teams played in the GSC.

"Back in those days, it was really something. You had Ralph Ward at McNeese, Scotty (Robertson) at (Louisiana Tech) and Beryl. The league was so competitive. I know for some reasons, we always played our best games against him," said Hildebrand.

Hildebrand especially recalled a game in 1971 at Northwestern’s Prather Coliseum when the Cajuns beat his team 25-21.

"That was the only chance that we had to beat them. During the 1970’s Beryl had an incredible run, winning something like 100 games in just several years. They were so very talented and they always knew what they were doing defensively especially with that 1-3-1 trapping zone," Hildebrand said.

"When you were playing Beryl, you were always playing at a different level. You could get your team to step up and you still couldn’t win," said Hildebrand.

After both retired, Hildebrand said he and Beryl became more friendly, usually when they met at Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches events.

"All along, even when we played them, I always got along with Beryl. When it came to game time, though, Beryl was all business," said Hildebrand.

Athletic Network Footnote:
Present at the induction ceremonies were former players (including Randy Price who was a member of Coach Shipley’s first SLI team), coaches (including Tom Cox, his long-time assistant), managers, sports medicine, and Voices of Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns personnel (including Ron Gomez, the Voice of the Bulldogs).

A large number of Shipley family members, in addition to Dolores, brother Tom, Marilyn, Patti, Aimee and their spouses were also in attendance. The university was represented by President Savoie, Scott Farmer, Coach Bob Marlin and other coaches and university staff.  USL and UL basketball fans were also in attendance. UL graduates Harold Porter, Gerald Boudreaux, and Don Landry were in attendance, as well as Dan McDonald and Doug Ireland, both former members of the USL Sports Information Department. All were involved in the HOF induction in various capacities.  Wright Waters, former USL assistant athletic director, was presented the Dave Dixon Leadership Award.
It was a night to be remembered and our hats are off to the HOF staff and board members, the LSWA and all who were involved.

Click here for a Tribute to Coach Beryl Shipley. This tribute by the AN contains stories, video, photo galleries, etc.

Click here for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame website   

Peace, Ed Dugas