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ULL winningest basketball coach Shipley dies at 84

ULL winningest basketball coach Shipley dies at 84

Morning Advocate, April 17, 2011

LAFAYETTE — Beryl Shipley,  who broke the color barrier with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette men’s basketball program, has died.

He was 84.

ULL’s all-time winningest coach, Shipley coached 16 seasons but eventually resigned in the face of numerous NCAA allegations.

Shipley died Friday night in Lafayette after a battle with cancer, ULL athletic department spokesman Cade Sirmans said.

A memorial service is planned Friday at First Baptist Church in Lafayette.

Often referred to as the father of modern basketball in Louisiana, Shipley led ULL for 16 seasons, including 15 winning seasons, and finished with a 293-126 record.

Under Shipley, ULL won five Gulf States championships in six seasons and the 1964-65 NAIA District 27 tournament championship.

“Basketball didn’t have the priority at most (Louisiana) colleges then, but he put it on the map and gave it a priority, which helped all of us,” said former Nicholls State men’s coach Don Landry, who got his start as a student assistant and freshman coach under Shipley.

“If you wanted to keep up, you had to have full-time coaches and put an emphasis on it.”

In 1966, Shipley signed three black players — Leslie Scott of Baton Rouge, Elvin Ivory of Birmingham, Ala., and Marvin Winkler of Indianapolis — making ULL the first school in the Deep South to recruit black athletes.

“He had no fear of doing what was right,” said Plaquemine boys basketball coach Denny Wright, who played for ULL from 1969-73. “Doing what it took to put together a good basketball team.

“He knew talent. He had a good feel for people and for the game of basketball.”

Before the 1970-71 season, ULL moved up to the NCAA major-college level and advanced to the NCAA tournament.

In the next two seasons, Shipley led ULL to a pair of Southland Conference championships and a No. 4 national ranking during the 1972-73 season.

That season proved to be Shipley’s last.

With his program facing numerous NCAA allegations, Shipley resigned on May 16, 1973.

The ULL men’s basketball team was eventually given a two-year “death penalty” by the NCAA, suspending the program for the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons.

In 2008, Shipley and former ULL play-by-play announcer and state representative Ron Gomez wrote a book about the circumstances leading up to the death penalty called “Slam Dunked.”

Even in his later years, Shipley remained defiant toward the NCAA.

“I know of no one on our teams who is not doing well and who is not well thought of in his community,” Shipley said in 1986 when he was inducted into the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches hall of fame. “We’re going to get together after this banquet, and if our guys know of anybody who isn’t doing well from our teams, we’re going to send a care package to him — and tell the NCAA to go to hell.”

“Coach was coach until the end,” Wright said. “He was aware of what everybody (former players) was doing.”

Shipley was born on Aug. 10, 1926, in Kingsport, Tenn.

The third of three sons, he played basketball in high school and got a scholarship to Hinds Junior College in Mississippi after serving in World War II in the Navy.

Before becoming coach at ULL — then Southwestern Louisiana Institute — in 1957, Shipley was a high-school coach in Starkville, Miss.


Lowry's