Former Greensboro College Basketball Coach Jim Tribbett has passed away:Coaches vs. Cancer and unfortunately Cancer wins again

Posted by Andy Durham on November 3, 2019 at 3:38 pm under College | 5 Comments to Read

I was among those over at Greensboro College back when Jim Tribbett was their head men’s basketball coach from 1986-1990…I was doing the PA there back in the day and Coach Tribbett was a fiery coach he had that tough young assistant Tommy Lanier working with him…Kim Strabble was the Athletic Director for most of that time, and you had guys like Jeff “D” Dastmalchian(from Overland Park, Kansas) and Kevin Biesecker(from West Forsyth High School) on the team and this was a progressive time frame for Greensboro College athletics and basketball..We would get that Hanes Gym fired for the games and I even had local Greensboro College fans coming up and telling me, “good game” after the games, that’s how much electricity there was in that building back in the day…Jim Tribbett would have that place on fire, and he may have been too fiery for his own good, because they had to let him go after about 4 years…Those were some of the good old days of college basketball in Greensboro and now Coach Tribbett has left us, he is gone, and we will let the memories of those days carry on for Coach Tribbett, and all that knew him, and he did a very good job later on, leading Chowan into the CIAA….You almost had to be there to appreciate all that was going on back then, but those were some of the glory days of Greensboro College athletics with Coach Tribbett, Coach Jean Lojko, Dr. Milton Reece Jim Locke and others leading the way…..

from former Greensboro College assistant basketball coach Tommy Lanier by way of Email today:
**********I just wanted to let you know that Coach Jim Tribbett passed yesterday…..He was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer 4 weeks ago. He was the HC at GC from 1986-1990.**********

++++++++++Jim’s most recent basketball job:Head Men’s Basketball Coach at DME Academy++++++++

from GreensboroSports.com on February 24, 2010…
Former Greensboro College coach Jim Tribbett leads Chowan into historically black CIAA Tournament: Changing the way we look at basketball
Posted by Andy Durham on February 24, 2010 at 2:58 pm under College….

This is without a doubt the most interesting piece/article that I have read today and it will get your attention too, when you read about Chowan University’s bold move to the CIAA Conference and how they and the conference view this move, as they get set for the basketball tournament to get rolling, this week down in Charlotte….

Former Greensboro College men’s basketball Jim Tribbett leads the men into the tournament and he has done a fine job with his club….Coach Tribbett was at Greensboro College back in the early to mid-eighties and his volunteer assistant coach at the time was a young kid from Grimsley, Tommy Lanier, who still lives here today….

Check out the article from Scott Fowler at the Charlotte Observer as Chowan College/University heads to Charlotte for the tournament. They are calling this move, “The Eureka Moment”:

The Chowan men’s basketball team is seeded fourth and went 13-7 in the CIAA in its inaugural season and now they head into the tournament this week in Charlotte.

“We’ve overachieved on many nights”, said Jim Tribbett, Chowan’s men’s basketball coach since 2002. “And our players have loved being in a conference. We’ve really embraced the road in the CIAA because the atmosphere is so good the pep bands, the cheerleaders, the crowds.”

Chowan doesn’t expect to draw a great number of fans to Charlotte. Whatever we have, though, Tribbett said, this going to be great.

Jim Tribbett said,
Andy…thanks for the kind words. I really enjoyed my time at Greensboro College as well.

from the Greensboro News and Record February 23, 1990….
Jim Tribbett, head men’s basketball coach at Greensboro College, has resigned after four seasons.

The Hornets finished the 1989-90 season with an overall mark of 15-11 and a fifth place finish in the Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 3-7 record. Tribbett’s career record at the Division III school was 51-55. “Coach Tribbett’s teams have been noted for being extremely competitive,’ said athletic director Kim Strable. “I know Jim was terribly disappointed in the second half of the season, particularly in league play.”

The 1989-90 team surged out to one of the best starts in Greensboro College history, winning 12 of its first 14 games. The losses were to Wittenberg, which is currently ranked second nationally, and Division II Queens College. After losing three players in mid-season due to academic ineligibility, the team slumped, losing its first six Dixie Conference games before rebounding to beat two of the conference leaders. The Hornets were eliminated in the first round of the conference tournament earlier this week.

Tribbett came to Greensboro College from assistant coaching positions at Wabash, Tiffin and UNC Wilmington. His overall winning percentage of .481 at Greensboro College ranks him second only to Bill Airiail’s .550 when he coached the Hornets from 1966 to 1968 in the first two years of intercollegiate play.

We wish Jim well in his future pursuits,’ Strable said. “He has fashioned an exciting brand of basketball that we hope to continue.’

from John McCarthy at SmallCollegeBasketball.com:John talks about when Coach Tribbett had to have his left leg amputated…..
Coach Jim Tribbett called on Friday. I talk with a lot of coaches, and consider many coaches throughout the country to be some good, personal friends. While I’ve just spent a fairly small amount of time in person with Coach Tribbett, I’ve spent a lot of time with him on the phone over the last four years or so. There are some people that you just connect with, and he is one of those for me. I think that it’s our passion for life and for people where we really hit it off. Certainly, he’s done a heck of a job over his career as a coach, but he’s really made his mark THROUGH the people that he’s coached. He genuinely cares about people, and in turn, people genuinely care about Coach.

It’s on this level where we have connected so quickly and so well. He and I are both passionate, emotional, and caring people. Certainly, we both have been so deeply involved in collegiate basketball, and we both are family men, each with one son. We both make it clear how much we love and treasure our sons.

I remember clearly where we stood during the 2008 Collegiate Basketball Invitational when he told me that one of his players, Eder Araujuo (from Walsh University), just learned of a death in his family. Eder was from Brazil and was terribly distraught, and was thinking about going home. Keep in mind that Coach Tribbett had never met Eder until the Collegiate Basketball Invitational. His emotion was incredible when he related this story of Eder’s situation to me.

I remember this well, as he had sweat on his face and head from the event, yet his eyes were welling up at a situation for a young man that he had just met. It was real emotion, and he showed how much he cared about this young man. Eder went, sadly, on his way for the funeral, and you could tell that Coach Tribbett’s heart went with him.

And so it was that he called on Friday. This, however, was not just any call to catch up, as I thought when he initially called. Let me get right to it here, as the news came at me hard: Coach had a pain in his foot just before he and his family left their vacation in St. Augustine, Florida, in August. It turned out to be vascular disease, and it was serious. Five surgeries and 41 days in the hospital, and Coach had his left leg amputated above the knee. As I listened, it became emotional. A Coach with so much energy and passion, and out-of-the-blue, his leg is amputated.

On top of it, while he was in the hospital, his house was robbed, his car stolen and wrecked. Televisions, his son’s shirt collection and more were stolen. Sad, but true.

And here’s what’s incredible, yet inspiring: Coach Tribbett told his son, “Johnny, I ‘just’ lost my leg. You didn’t lose your Dad.” Think about that….”I ‘just’ lost my leg”, as though it’s not that big of a deal. On Friday, he told me, “I ‘just’ lost my leg. I didn’t lose my heart or my head,” he told me. “I don’t have cancer. I’m alive and I lost weight, look good and feel good.” You should have heard his tone. He told me that he’s not mad at anyone. He’s not mad at God. Certainly, he’s questioned why this happened to him, but he felt fortunate that it was “just” his leg. Incredible!

As I listened to him I was twisted with emotions. As the news came pouring out of him, I wanted to cry for him. By the end of our talk, I was inspired.

“I want to coach again,” he said. Coach is the all-time winningest Coach at Chowan (NC), and has been coaching basketball for over 30 years. He’s coached at the NCAA Div. II, NCAA Div. III, NJCAA and NCCAA levels, as well as coaching high school basketball and serving administratively within the USBL. He’s been named as the NCCAA’s National Coach of the Year, and the USBL’s Executive of the Year.

If you really want to hear him get excited, get him talking about his players. He talks about how intelligent they are, and how hard they work. He will tell you what a joy it is to coach them. He uses the word “love” a lot. He cares.

Look, I’ve been there. I’ve been an Athletic Director and I’ve been a coach. Yes, I would hire him. In a heartbeat. He has so much to give to young men. His passion is contagious. He’s the kind of person that you want to represent you and your school. He’s the kind of guy that you would have wanted to hire before this tragedy, and ESPECIALLY now. Here’s a guy who had a tremendous burning desire before this incident, and now his fire has been stoked even further.

For the moment, his priority is getting back to health. “I want to coach again” just keeps ringing through my head. He’s a coach without a team right now. Coach Tribbett needs a team. I can tell you this: there is a team out there that needs Coach Tribbett more than they know.

He will positively touch lives again. He’s made a difference in my life, and I know that he has so much more to give. Coach Jim Tribbett will coach again.

**********from after the 2008-2009 season at Chowan:
Meet the Head Coach. Jim Tribbett will enter his eighth season(2009-2010) as the head of men’s basketball for the Hawks. Last season, the team finished 18-10 overall while finishing 2nd in the NCCAA South Region. Tribbett has won two NCCAA South Regional Championships over his tenure at Chowan.**********


  • Really? said,

    Andy, you usually do a great job on local sports, but the headline you put on this item is beyond tasteless. Please change it out of respect for Coach Tribbett’s family.

  • Andy Durham said,

    The thought is on how tough and bad cancer really is…It is nearly impossible to beat or defeat cancer…That is the meaning behind the headline and no disrespect whatsoever meant toward Coach Tribbett or his family….

    The thought is how bad Cancer really is…We saw it get Jim Valvano and a great number of coaches over the years…

    I have seen Cancer also take out many family members and friends…

    It is a sad day and Cancer is like a demon and it is no respecter of persons…Cancer wins again and it is very unfortunate, because as of right now we know no real way to beat it..

    That was my thought and the impression I was looking to generate…I have written too many of these death reports here at the site over the years and Cancer seems to be the leading cause of the deaths that I have been reporting..

    Again, no disrespect toward anyone that has been fighting cancer or to anyone or the family of those that have lost their battle vs. Cancer…

    I am not sure how we can stop or beat/defeat it, but for now all we can do is have hope and hope it does not claim or take out another one that we know of, any time soon..

  • Andy Durham said,

    And let me just add this….

    Rest in Peace Coach Jim Tribbett

    Others feel free to leave or add in comments…

  • Andy Durham said,

    It would be nice to see Greensboro College do something to honor or remember Coach Tribbett, but not sure who they have over there these days that could get that fire lit….

  • Andy Durham said,

    Jim Tribbett funeral will be this Saturday in Crawfordsville IN (his hometown) at his favorite old-school Hoosiers style gym….

    Tommy Lanier(Grimsley HS/Greensboro College assistant coach) flew out there this past Saturday and was with him for the last two hours of his life…Kudos to Tommy for showing that kind of support for the coach that gave him a chance to coach…

    Again, I hope Greensboro College will something at the college or on their website to honor their former coach…