Men’s Hoop Coach Lafayette Stribling Announces His Retirement from Mississippi Valley State University

By Off The BASN Sports Wire
Updated: May 24, 2005

Lafayette Stribling

ITTA BENA, Miss. — One of the most legendary names in college basketball officially announced his retirement from Mississippi Valley State University on Monday.

Lafayette Stribling, the winningest coach in MVSU basketball history, announced via a letter to Lonza Hardy Jr., MVSU’s athletics director, that he’ll retire from the post he has held at the school for 22 years come June 30.

His retirement comes amid speculation that he plans to assume the head coach’s position at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss.

“The entire Mississippi Valley State University family applauds Coach Stribling for his 20-plus years of service to our institution,” said Dr. Lester C. Newman, MVSU’s president.

“What Coach Stribling has done for our athletics program, as well as the university in general, is phenomenal. Not only is he the winningest coach in MVSU basketball history, but he has touched the lives of so many young students during his tenure here. We accept his decision to retire at this time, but we know that we’ll miss having him as an employee at our university.”

Stribling was named head coach at MVSU in 1983, after a storied career in the high school ranks that included stints at South Leake High School (formerly Murphy High School and Harmony High School) in Walnut Grove, Miss. from 1957 to 1982, where he coached both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.

He then coached the boys’ team at Grenada High School in Grenada, Miss. during the 1982-83 season.

As a high school coach, Stribling was one of the best there was. He won several state and district championships in both girls’ and boys’ basketball in his 26 years at South Leake High. His boys’ teams never had a losing record and he compiled an impressive record of 741 wins and 171 losses.

Meanwhile, his South Leake girls’ teams between 1978 and 1982 went a combined 125-15. Combined, his girls’ and boys’ teams of 1981 were undefeated, winning a total of 61 consecutive games.

When Stribling took over the MVSU program in 1983, he led the school to its first winning season as an NCAA Division I member. Just three years into his arrival in Itta Bena, he led the Delta Devils into the NCAA tournament.

MVSU faced No.1-ranked Duke University in 1986. The heavy underdog Delta Devils took the Blue Devils to the wire, ultimately losing 85-78.

Stribling’s teams would go on to capture four Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) regular-season championships (1991-92, 1995-96, 1996-97) and compete in two more NCAA tournaments (1992 and 1996).

The Delta Devils played Ohio State University in the 1992 NCAA tourney and Georgetown University in 1996.

Stribling’s all-time record as head coach of the Delta Devils stands at 315-307.

Hardy said Stribling’s worth to the MVSU athletics program cannot be measured by mere wins and losses.

“Coach Stribling is a true legend,” stated Hardy. “When you think of Valley basketball, you automatically think of Coach Stribling. He took over a little heard of program in 1983 and elevated it into a respected national power. His winning ways has made him a college basketball icon.”

Hardy said the school will immediately begin its search for a replacement for Coach Stribling. He said he expects to have the position filled by mid-June.