Belmont’s first athletics director and men’s basketball coach, Larry Striplin Jr., died at the age of 82 on Monday in a Birmingham, Ala., hospital.
Striplin, who started in 1952, served for four years as the school’s athletics director and men’s basketball coach. The Bruins went 58-42 during that span and Striplin coached the school’s first All-American in any sport, Robert Barnes.
“We are all deeply saddened to hear of Larry’s passing. Belmont University has lost a dear friend,” assistant athletic director Betty Wiseman said. “Our history in Belmont Athletics will always be traced back to the hiring of Larry as our first athletic director and basketball coach in 1952. We will forever be grateful for his life and legacy in our history and heritage. Larry Striplin will always be remembered as the ‘patriarch’ of Belmont Athletics.”
Striplin, who left Belmont to pursue personal business endeavors, remained a benefactor to the university. In 1964, the Striplin Gymnasium was named in his honor. In 2001, the arena was torn down to build the new Curb Event Center, which houses the Striplin-Wiseman Athletic Office Complex.
Striplin, a native of Selma, Ala., earned his master’s degree in education from Peabody College (now Vanderbilt). He was the CEO of Nelson-Brantley Glass Company and Circle "S" Industries and was instrumental in establishing the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. He served for 13 years as Chairman and a total of 23 years on the hall's board.
Striplin also founded the Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete scholarship program in 1986. Almost $10 million has been distributed to more than 2,200 senior student-athletes since the program's inception.