Tahlequah Daily Press

NSU Sports

February 18, 2014

Gipson’s goodbye

NSU coach Larry Gipson announces his retirement

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

There’s a photo that adorns Larry Gipson’s refrigerator. It’s of a senior basketball player at Heidelberg University.

By Gipson’s own admission, the player in the picture was never really a star athlete on the hardwood.

“He wasn’t a very good player,” Gipson said. “He was probably a pain in the neck to his coaches. But he might be my favorite player.”

The imposing figure in the triple-threat position is none other than Gipson himself. And while he never made his mark as a player in basketball, he left quite an imprint in the coaching realm of college hoops.

“Every day, I think I’ve gotta live up to the expectations of that kid,” Gipson said  Monday during a press conference to announce his retirement, which will take place at the end of the current basketball season.

“I wonder what he would think about. I wonder what his thoughts were at the time, and I wonder if he could anticipate some of the things that happened to him.”

There’s a good chance the kid from Ohio in that photograph never envisioned what kind of coaching career was in store years down the road.

At the end of NSU’s current 12-10 season, the final chapter will be written in Gipson’s storied coaching career. It began in 1982 with coaching jobs at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Toledo and Northeastern State University. It includes 561 career coaching victories, 332 at the NCAA level; five NCAA tournament berths; and two national championships — one at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in 1989 and one at Northeastern State in 2003.

In fact, Gipson’s two national titles land him in select company in the state of Oklahoma. Gipson and Henry Iba — a Hall of Fame coach at Oklahoma State — are the only two coaches in the state to win multiple national championships.

“...My name in the same sentence as Henry Iba; I think when you think about that 21-year old kid — who wasn’t aware of who Henry Iba was — if you were to say that to that 21-year old kid, he would have said, ‘I’ll take that career,’” Gipson, 62, said. “I think he was the greatest of all coaches in that he transformed the game... he was the one who identified a clear philosophy to give his team a chance to win.”

Regardless of how NSU caps its 2013-2014 season, Gipson will still be roughly 30 games shy of becoming NSU’s all-time winningest men’s basketball coach. Currently, he has 276 wins at NSU – 38 shy of Jack Dobbins’ mark of 314.

But unseating Dobbins as the benchmark for coaching victories at NSU never crossed Gipson’s mind before he decided to retire.

“I never worry about that,” said Gipson, who moved past Ken Hayes to become NSU’s second-winningest coach in men’s basketball history. “In terms of chasing somebody’s record, I never felt that was that important.”

Gipson’s retirement will also bring an end to the all-Gipson era at Northeastern State. Since Randy Gipson — the women’s basketball coach at NSU — joined the university 15 years ago, it’s been nothing but the brother duo on NSU’s bench.

It’s something both Randy and Larry said they’ll miss.

“Randy was five years younger than me, so he was the guy who always tagged along. And it was like if Randy screwed up, I’d put the knot on his head or get upset. But nobody else would pick on Randy,” Larry Gipson said. “He’s always been the only one I would listen to when they told me I was screwing up. My first reaction when somebody criticizes me — and I think this is why I was a pain in the ass to coaches — was to get upset. But not with Randy. He’s been there through thick and thin, and I think it’s benefited both of us and we can bounce ideas off of each other. And I think it’s going to be an adjustment for both of us.”

Randy Gipson — who sat in the front row of the press conference while Larry announced his retirement — echoed Larry’s sentiments.

“He’s had such a tremendously positive influence on me, and having any of the accomplishments that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of, is directly related to his influence,” Randy Gipson said. “It’s been a dream ride for us to have worked together at the same time at the same school two different times. We’ve just enjoyed that so much.

“It’s going to be a big life change for me, as well. I’m going to have to get accustomed to a new routine.”

And so will the rest of NSU after Larry Gipson’s 17-year run.

1
Text Only
NSU Sports
Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Stocks