Women's basketball pioneer, former Clemson, Anderson coach Annie Tribble passes

Tribble led Trojans to three national titles, put Clemson women's sports on the map

Former Clemson head coach Annie Tribble will be honored in March as a member of the ACC Women's Basketball Legends class of 2011.

Photo by Mark Crammer

Former Clemson head coach Annie Tribble will be honored in March as a member of the ACC Women's Basketball Legends class of 2011.

Clemson Hall of Fame Women’s Basketball Coach Annie Tribble passed away on Thursday, April 18 after a battle with cancer. Tribble, 80, died in hospice care in a facility in Anderson, SC.

Tribble served as Clemson’s women’s basketball coach from the 1976-77 season through the 1986-87 season. In her 11 years she led the Lady Tigers to at least 20 wins seven times. The Lady Tigers advanced to postseason play seven times, including the inaugural NCAA Tournament in 1982.

The Clemson graduate had a record of 200-135 for her 11 seasons at Clemson and had 22 wins over top 25 teams, including victories over seventh-ranked Tennessee, 13th ranked South Carolina, and second-ranked Old Dominion in a two-week period during the winter of 1981. Clemson won the ACC Regular season title that year, the first ACC championship of any kind in Clemson basketball history.

Tribble brought Barbara Kennedy to Clemson in 1978. Kennedy went on to become the ACC’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, marks she still holds today.

On Tuesday of this week, Tribble was presented with two honors by Bill D’Andrea, director of Clemson’s Tiger Letterman’s Association

First, Tribble was presented with the Key to the City of Clemson. Then she was presented with a plaque that named the Clemson Head Women’s Basketball Coaches Office in her honor.

In addition to being a member of the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame, Tribble is also a member of the State of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.

Before coming to Clemson she coached nine years at Anderson College, which was then a junior college. She had a record of 155-33 for a .824 winning percentage at Anderson. She won the National JUCO Championship in 1973-74, 1974-75 and 1975-76. Her 1975-76 team was 38-2. She won 68 of her last 78 games at Anderson.

“Annie Tribble was a pioneer of women’s athletics at Clemson,” said D’Andrea, who was a member of Danny Ford’s football staff when Tribble was the head basketball coach of the women’s program. “She did so much for our overall athletic program with the way she represented the department. She was so well respected in the women’s basketball community. After retirement she was such supporter of all of our programs. She will be missed.”

Following is a column written by Independent Mail sports editor Scott Adamson after Anderson University's basketball court was named for Tribble in January, 2012:

Coaching legacies are defined in many ways, from games won to lives touched and all the details in between.

Annie Tribble took care of all the details — which is why she won so many games and touched so many lives.

Anderson University held something of a surprise party for Tribble on Saturday at the Abney Athletic Center, a day that began with a tribute and ended with a doubleheader played on Annie Tribble Court.

Naming the hardwood after this women’s basketball groundbreaker is certainly fitting. Her sneaker-prints are all over the school.

Then again, they’re all over the Upstate.

She took over the Anderson program when it was barely breathing, and before she was done the Trojans had claimed three junior college national championships and won 155 games.

But that was just scratching the surface.

Her success in the Racing City had Clemson officials racing to her office in 1976, hoping she’d be willing to move just a tad further up the road and give the Tiger women’s program a boost.

In 11 years at Clemson she won 200 games, an ACC championship, took the Tigers to the inaugural NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and produced five All-Americans and eight All-ACC selections.

It’s no wonder that Tribble is in both the Anderson and Clemson athletic halls of fame, the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame and was honored last year as an Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball legend.

But here are some numbers that tell an even greater story: 200-plus.

Those were the RSVPs for Saturday’s tribute, one that had sports information Randy Jones and officials at AU scrambling to make room for all the people who wanted to show their love and respect for Tribble.

It’s standard fare for former players to talk about their coaches in reverent tones, and to hear stories of the positive impact they had on their lives outside of sports. With Tribble, though, it’s not just players who have hero worship.

She has that effect on just about everyone she meets.

Whether it’s volunteering with Hospice or delivering meals as part of her church’s mission work, she always finds time to do something positive for others.

And that’s where the details come in.

You get the feeling that every person matters to coach Tribble, even if his or her passion is basket weaving instead of basketball. Talk to a former player, and they’ll talk about all the time she took to teach.

Talk to her friends, and they’ll tell you about an even better friend.

Every little thing counts for this remarkable coach, even if you don’t count all the wins.

And that’s just a small part of what makes Annie Claire Stephens Tribble so special — and so deserving of this special day.

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