||This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (March 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1985–1990||East Tennessee State|
|Administrative career (AD unless noted)|
|1985–1990||East Tennessee State|
|Head coaching record|
Robinson graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree in parks and recreation and physical education from North Carolina State University. He then became an assistant coach at N.C. State for one year. From there, he was the head basketball coach and athletic director at Cedar Key High School in Florida for two years. In 1968 he returned to graduate school, serving as an assistant coach at Western Carolina University where he also received a master's degree in physical education and guidance counseling.
After one year at Western Carolina, Robinson moved to The Citadel as an assistant coach. He served in that role for five years before taking over the program in 1974–75. He coached at The Citadel for 11 seasons. Although he only managed a .500-or-better record five times, his 132 wins are the most in school history. He was twice named South Carolina Coach of the Year and was a two-time Southern Conference Coach of the Year.
In 1985 Robinson became East Tennessee State University's men's head basketball coach and athletic director. Under his guidance, ETSU won the 1989 and 1990 Southern Conference championships, playing in NCAA Tournament both years. In 1990 Robinson was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year and Tennessee Coach of the Year.
In 1989, Robinson served as an assistant coach for the U.S. World Championship qualifying team in Mexico City, Mexico. He also coached the South team to a Bronze medal in the 1993 Olympic Festival in San Antonio, Texas.
Robinson returned to his alma mater in 1990 after Jim Valvano was forced out in the wake of an NCAA investigation. He was the 1991 District Coach of the Year as selected by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) after leading NC State to a 20-11 record in the first season. Robinson is one of only two first-year coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference history to win 20 games, post a winning regular season conference record, and win games in both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.
However, the Wolfpack were docked several scholarships as a result of NCAA sanctions levied for misconduct under Valvano. They took their full effect in Robinson's second season, and the team plummeted into the ACC's second division for the next five years. The low point of Robinson's tenure in Raleigh came during the 1992-93 season. Due to injuries and academic-related suspensions, Robinson was only able to dress seven players for most of conference play. They ultimately finished 8-19, the worst record in modern Wolfpack history.
In 1992, the ACC Tournament was expanded because of the addition of Florida State. A play-in game between the eighth and ninth place teams was created, and during his five years as the N.C. State coach after its addition, Robinson's Wolfpack played in the play-in game four out of five times (finishing seventh in 1992 and avoiding the game). Because of his team's traditional appearance in the Thursday night game, the game was referred to as the "Les Robinson Invitational" by ACC fans. The play-in game was discontinued when the ACC expanded to include Miami and Virginia Tech, and required three Thursday games.
Les Robinson would stay on as head coach through the 1995-96 season, and although he never won as much as his predecessors, Robinson's stint went a long way towards cleansing the image of the program to both insiders and outsiders. Robinson was appointed NC State's athletic director in 1996 and stepped down as head coach. He left to become The Citadel's athletic director in 2000. On January 25, 2008, he announced he would retire at the end of the school year, effective June 30.
Head coaching record
|The Citadel (Southern Conference) (1974–1985)|
|East Tennessee State (Southern Conference) (1985–1990)|
|1985–1986||East Tennessee State||13-16||8-8||T-5th|
|1986–1987||East Tennessee State||7-21||3-13||T-8th|
|1987–1988||East Tennessee State||14-15||9-7||T-3rd|
|1988–1989||East Tennessee State||20-11||7-7||T-4th||NCAA 1st Round|
|1989–1990||East Tennessee State||27-7||12-2||1st||NCAA 1st Round|
|East Tennessee State:||81-70||39-37|
|North Carolina State (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1990–1996)|
|1990–1991||NC State||20-11||8-6||NCAA Second Round|
National champion Postseason invitational champion