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UL coaching legend Shipley dies - Acadiana Gazette - Judy Johnson, Editor

UL coaching legend Shipley dies - Acadiana Gazette - Judy Johnson, Editor

Beryl Shipley, the winningest coach in UL basketball history, passed away Friday night, April 15, after a long battle with cancer.

Shipley was heralded and hounded for his integration of the University of Southwestern Louisiana's varsity basketball squad in the '70s. Officials of the university, now known as University of Louisiana at Lafayette, beleaguered Shipley and his championship teams and didn't take the coach's side when the NCAA handed down its "death penalty," killing the program for two years.

Shipley, the man who lived for basketball, never coached at the college level again.

Through it all, Shipley's Bulldogs captured five Gulf State Championships in six seasons, including a win at the 1964-65 NAIA District 27 Tournament Championship. He also took his team to the NCAA College Tournament in 1970-71.
In his 16 years with UL, beginning in 1957 when the school was known as the Southwestern Louisiana Institute, Shipley compiled a record of 293-126, burnishing his image as a leader of athletes and men.

A memorial service will be held at noon Friday, April 22, at First Baptist Church in Downtown Lafayette. Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. until the time of service.

For all the bad blood between UL and Shipley, old wounds were eased earlier this year when a celebration known as "100 Years of UL Basketball" turned into a salute to Shipley and his extraordinary teams.

Ed Dugas, coordinator of www.AthleticNetwork.net, was involved with the celebration and its reporting. His thoughts on Shipley, taken from the Network site, recall a man who always looked to a better, brighter future.

"Anyone who knew him will always remember him," Dugas wrote. "He was the genuine article. As an agent for change, he raised the bar for everyone, including himself. All who knew him has had their lives enriched by him in various ways."

"Although we became acquainted while I was an SLI/USL student, it was my honor and good fortune to work closely with him over the past 15 years on a variety of projects: the early years of the Top 28 beginning in 1997, the Shipley Reunion in 2001 followed by two other basketball reunions, and two Beryl Shipley Mended Hearts endowed scholarships. Probably most importantly in our interactions were his attitude and words on 'forgiveness.'"

Shipley had harbored ill will for the many university officials who harried him after he integrated the basketball program. The struggle over the years was recounted in the book "Slam Dunked!" written by Shipley and Ron Gomez, who served as "the Voice of the Bulldogs" during the coach's heyday.

But a sermon soothed Shipley's heart, and made it possible for him to let go the outrages in his last weeks.

Dugas also remembered the final weeks of Shipley's battle against an inexorable foe, cancer.
"Those who knew him were reminded during the recent men's basketball reunion that he always gave his best effort," Dugas said. "While seriously ill the day of the half-time recognitions, he made a serious attempt to attend the ceremony. He came as close as the edge of the parking lot of the Cajundome, when he had to return home, and later be admitted to the emergency room."

Shipley's belief in forgiveness was returned in kind at the most recent basketball reunion, when Dr. E. Joseph Savoie, president of UL, offered special words of praise for the coach.

Savoie was to present Shipley with a special memento at the Jan. 22 half-time ceremonies. Battling lung cancer and the side effects of his treatment, Shipley was unable to attend.

Shipley remained involved right up to the end. He worked with Dugas on brochures for the Shipley Mended Hearts Scholarship, which he endowed shortly before his death. He met with the team creating the Shipley documentary just days before his death, so he and wife Dolores could be updated.

Among Shipley's many honors:
• Two Southland Conference Championships in the '70s, and a ranking that reached as high as 8th in the nation.
• Four time Gulf States Conference Coach of the Year.
• Two time NAIA District 27 Coach of the Year (1964-65, '65-66)
• Two time Southland Conference Coach of the Year (1971-72, '72-73)
• 1972-73 Louisiana Collegiate Coach of the Year
• 1972 coach of the Louisiana All Star Team in the Texas All Stars vs. Louisiana All Stars
• Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame (Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches), inducted 1984
• Hinds Community College Sports Hall of Fame, inducted 1988
• Delta State University Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Miss., inducted 2011.

Submitted by Judy Johnson
Editor, Acadiana Gazette


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