June 14, 2010

Courtesy of Lamar

BEAUMONT, Texas - Lamar University Athletic Director Billy Tubbs will step down as athletic director, university officials announced today.

Tubbs, who has served as AD since 2002, will become a special assistant/consultant to the president for athletics, providing assistance in fund raising and other areas. Larry Tidwell, head coach of the women's basketball team, will serve as interim AD.

Tubbs, who had spent 18 years as a player, assistant coach, head coach and faculty member at Lamar University, returned to his alma mater as director of athletics May 27, 2002. The following year, he began filling the dual role as AD and head coach of men's basketball, guiding the Cardinals through three successful seasons. In March 2006, Tubbs resigned as head coach of Lamar but remained the athletic director. He was succeeded as head coach of the men's basketball team by Steve Roccaforte, his three-year assistant.

Under Tubbs' tenure, Lamar student athletes won Southland Conference championships in baseball in '03, '04, '10; basketball '08; cross country, '06, '07, '08, '09; golf in '01, '02, '03; women's cross country, '05, '06; women's tennis, '08; volleyball, '07. Lamar added women's soccer and started efforts to return the Cardinals to the football field. New athletic facilities added since 2002 include the renovation of McDonald Gym as a part of the Sheila Umphrey Recreational Sports Center, the new soccer field complex, a new floor in the Montagne Center, the Vernon Glass Field of Champions football practice field, and ongoing renovation and construction for the W.S. "Bud" Leonard Field, Provost Umphrey Stadium, Dan F. and Sandra A. Smith Press Box, Morgan Suites, and the new athletic complex for football.

Tubbs, 75, a native of Tulsa, Okla., served twice as the head coach of his alma mater, 1976-1980 and 2003-2006. He was head coach at the University of Oklahoma, 1980-1994, and Texas Christian University, 1994-2002. Well known for his high scoring offense and full-court press defense, Tubbs achieved many coaching milestones during his career. He became the ninth coach in NCAA history to record 100 wins at three different schools (Oklahoma 333, TCU 156 and Lamar 121). He became the 28th coach in NCAA Division I history to record 600 wins, an accomplishment achieved in Lamar's 79-67 win over Texas Southern during the 2003-04 season.

In 31 years of coaching, Tubbs compiled a 641-340 (.653) career record, including a 121-89 record in seven years at Lamar. He guided 12 teams to NCAA Tournament appearances, six National Invitation Tournament appearances, eight conference championships, three conference tournament championships and 18 20-win seasons. His 641 wins ranks 34th all-time in NCAA history. Tubbs made a name for himself at Lamar by taking the Cardinals to their first-ever NCAA Tournament in 1979 and leading the Cardinals to the "Sweet 16" in 1980. While a student at Lamar, Tubbs was a two-year letterwinner, 1955-1957, for coach Jack Martin. He began his coaching career as Martin's assistant coach from 1960-71.

Coach Larry Tidwell guided the Lady Cardinals to a 26-8 record this season, the second-most wins in school history. In his three years at Lamar, Tidwell has posted a 65-32 record. Tidwell has had a winning record in each of his three campaigns at Lamar. Prior to his arrival, Lamar had not had a winning record since the 1994-95 season.

Tidwell came to Lamar in 2007 after serving eight seasons as an assistant coach and recruiter at TCU, helping the Lady Frogs achieve 173 victories and seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2002, he earned AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year recognition. Most recently, Tidwell was honored by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches as its Division 1 Women's Basketball Coach of the Year.

Tidwell's first Lamar team pulled off a stunner by advancing to the championship game of the 2008 Southland Conference Tournament with wins of 60-48 over preseason favorite Stephen F. Austin and 63-50 over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Last season, the Lady Cardinals again defeated SFA in the first round of the tournament before falling to Texas-Arlington in the semifinals.

A 34-year coaching veteran, Tidwell has worked in the Big 12 Conference, Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA as well as the former Southwest Conference. He is credited with helping sign, develop and coach more than 20 student athletes who have taken their talents to the professional level.

Tidwell made an immediate impact upon the women's program by guiding his first team to the school's first ever SLC East Division championship. Along the way, the Lady Cards won 19 games and posted two five-game winning streaks. For an encore, Tidwell's second Lamar team roared out of the blocks by winning six of its first seven games with the lone loss being on the road to perennial national power Baylor. The Lady Cards later posted streaks of four and five straight wins in conference play, and they went 14-2 in the Montagne Center where home attendance saw a significant increase.

Off the court, Tidwell made strides in enriching pride, recognition and support for the women's program. He established the Lady Cardinal Basketball Walk of Champions on the Montagne Center's upper concourse, the Wall of Excellence, on display on the lower concourse outside of the Lady Cardinal locker room, to honor community service, leadership, academics and basketball honors for present day players. A Graduation Wall is located inside the locker room.

Another sign of Tidwell's influence is that the Cardinal Club, Lamar athletic booster organization, took in 75 new members who specifically designated their financial support to women's basketball.

Tidwell's roots run deep as he possesses 34 years of coaching experience in the Lone Star State, but he's also a well-known figure in women's basketball throughout the entire country and abroad. His international roots run deep as he has coached and signed players from Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Latvia, Trinidad, Sweden, Slovakia, Belgium, France, Iceland, Jamaica, Serbia, Nigeria, Lebanon, Poland and Denmark.