Les Robinson

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For the English footballer, see Les Robinson (footballer).
Les Robinson
Sport(s) Basketball
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1974–1985 The Citadel
1985–1990 East Tennessee State
1990–1996 NC State
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1985–1990 East Tennessee State
1996–2000 NC State
2000–2008 The Citadel
Head coaching record
Overall 291–330

Les Robinson is a former American basketball coach and former athletic director of North Carolina State and The Citadel.[1]

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[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
The Citadel (Southern Conference) (1974–1985)
1974–1975 The Citadel 5-15 2-11 7th
1975–1976 The Citadel 10-17 6-7 6th
1976–1977 The Citadel 8-19 2-9 7th
1977–1978 The Citadel 8-19 2-11 8th
1978–1979 The Citadel 20-7 10-4 3rd
1979–1980 The Citadel 14-13 6-10 T-6th
1980–1981 The Citadel 9-17 2-14 9th
1981–1982 The Citadel 14-14 7-9 T-6th
1982–1983 The Citadel 12-16 7-9 6th
1983–1984 The Citadel 14-14 8-8 T-4th
1984–1985 The Citadel 18-11 11-5 3rd
The Citadel: 132-162 63-97
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
1991–1992 NC State 12-18 6-10 7th
1992–1993 NC State 8-19 2-14 T-8th
1993–1994 NC State 11-19 5-11 9th
1994–1995 NC State 12-15 4-12 8th
1995–1996 NC State 15-16 3-13 9th
NC State: 78-98 28-66
Total: 291-330

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion