Franklin & Marshall men’s basketball coach Glenn Robinson announced his retirement from coaching effective today. Robinson, who has been the head coach of the Diplomats for 48 seasons and is the Division III all-time wins leader, will take on other administrative duties within the athletic department and assist with basketball operations through the remainder of the academic year.
“I am retiring because I believe it is the right time,” said Robinson. “This decision has absolutely nothing to do with health. It has to do with the demands of coaching. Coaching demands energy, alertness, attention to detail, and unlimited enthusiasm, and I feel Coach Nichay is better able to demonstrate those attributes with our team.”
Assistant Coach Nick Nichay has been elevated to Interim Head Coach for the 2019-20 season. Nichay, who has been at F&M for seven seasons, served in the head coach capacity at the start of the 2018-19 season when Robinson was on medical leave.
“Part of what made this decision easier is that I know the program is in excellent hands with Coach Nichay,” said Robinson. “He has been with our program for seven seasons and has done a tremendous job leading our recruiting efforts and has taken on more of the day-to-day running of the program in the last few seasons.”
Robinson retires as the most victorious coach in NCAA Division III history with 967 victories, which ranks third all-time among all NCAA divisions of college basketball. He led the Diplomats to the NCAA’s Division III Tournament 25 times, with 44 Tournament victories, most recently leading his squad to the 2017-18 Tournament. F&M advanced to the Sweet 16 on 17 occasions and the Elite Eight in 10 postseasons.
He guided the Diplomats to the Final Four in 1979, 1991, 1996, 2000, and 2009 and was named Basketball Times Division III “Coach of the Year” in 1991 and D3hoops.com Coach of the Year in 2009. He has earned NABC and conference Coach of the Year honors 12 times.
“Glenn is a legendary coach and a good friend,” said Director of Athletics & Recreation Patricia S.W. Epps. “He has been a tremendous mentor to countless student-athletes and colleagues and set a standard of excellence that will be difficult to match.”
Players flourished under Robinson’s guidance during his half-century at F&M. Diplomat student-athletes earned 26 All-America honors, 93 All-Conference selections, 17 Conference Player of the Year Awards, and five Academic All-America certificates; 35 players reached the 1,000-point milestone. During his tenure, all but three players to earn a varsity letter have earned a degree, a statistic which few other colleges in the nation can boast.
He joined the F&M basketball coaching staff as an assistant coach in 1968 under Hall of Fame athletic trainer Chuck Taylor. In fall 1971, he took over the Diplomats’ varsity program when Taylor resigned to focus on his athletic training responsibilities.
“I have been truly blessed to be able to represent such a wonderful institution, deal with such a caring group of administrators and coach such a fantastic group of young men,” Robinson said. “Fifty-two years have flown by, and I am sure there is nothing else that could have provided me with such pride and pleasure.”
Robinson’s road to NCAA history did not look realistic in the beginning.
Following a year which saw F&M finish 4-16, its seventh consecutive losing season, Robinson took over and led the 1971-72 Diplomats to a 7-14 mark. The program’s upward trajectory continued the following year as the Diplomats improved to 11-13.
Finally, in 1974, the Diplomats broke through for a 13-11 mark, the team’s best record since a 13-6 performance in 1959. In 1976, Robinson reset the school wins record with a 17-8 record. However, the record did not stand for long as he broke it again in 1977 with 22, in 1979 with 27 and in 1991 with 28 victories. In total, Robinson led F&M to 20-win seasons on 26 occasions.
The 1995-96 season was the best on record with 29 wins and capped the most successful decade in men’s basketball history. During those 10 years, the Diplomats won 22 or more games every season and averaged just 3.7 losses a year. Robinson led the team to eight conference crowns with nine NCAA appearances, two Final Fours, and the national runner-up in 1990-91.
Robinson became the all-time wins leader in Division III history by recording his 667th victory on Feb. 14, 2004, with a Mayser Center win over Muhlenberg. He is one of only four coaches in NCAA history to amass 900 wins. In 2008-09, he became only the second Division III coach to reach 1,000 games coached.
He ended his career strong with some of his most successful seasons occurring in the final decade of his career. The Diplomats finished eight of the last 11 seasons with 20 or wins, advanced to the conference tournament in all 11 seasons, the conference finals six times and won four conference titles. The Diplomats also advanced to the NCAA Tournament on five occasions with a Final Four run, three Elite Eight showings and four Sweet 16 appearances.
“I am no longer coaching, but I am not retired,” said Robinson. “My ‘work’ was always what I wanted to do, so I intend to stay involved; however, I can help but with more time to see our three grandchildren continue to mature. I also hope to visit with former players, many making their living in basketball, to see firsthand how they are doing.”
Robinson grew up in Yeadon, Pa., and played high school basketball at nearby Lansdowne-Aldan High before attending West Chester. At WCU, he was a standout collegiate baseball and basketball player before graduating in 1967 and earning a master’s degree a year later. He was inducted into the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004.