One of the great coaching careers in college basketball and Lancaster County sports is over.
Glenn Robinson, men’s basketball coach at Franklin & Marshall College for 48 years, announced his retirement Monday.
Robinson’s 967 wins, all at F&M, are the most in the history of NCAA Division III. In all of men’s college basketball, only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (1,132) and Herb Magee of Division II Jefferson (1,096) have more.
Franklin & Marshall coach Glenn Robinson retired Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Here's a look at some impressive stats he compiled while he was th…
Robinson decided to step down over the weekend, less than a week before the 2019-20 season begins.
“I always tried to hold my players to the standard of, ‘Go as hard as you can as long as you can,’ ’’ he said Tuesday. “I just felt like the demands of the job are such that I couldn’t hold myself to that standard any more.’’
Nick Nichay, Robinson’s top assistant for the past seven seasons, will be the interim head coach. Robinson said he hopes Nichay, “is hired on a permanent basis.’’
Nichay coached last year’s team for 12 games while Robinson was on medical leave, although Robinson said his health is not a factor in his decision.
“It’s exciting, but I definitely have mixed emotions,’’ Nichay said Tuesday. “I’m going to be who I am, but the core principles of the program will stay the same.’’
Robinson is a native of Yeadon, Pa. who played basketball and baseball at West Chester University. He came to F&M as an assistant basketball coach and tenure-track physical education teacher, as was typical at the time, in 1968.
Three years later he took over a basketball program that had seven straight losing seasons and had gone 4-16 the previous year. By 1975, the Diplomats qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first of 24 times under Robinson. His teams had 26 20-win seasons.
F&M reached the NCAA Sweet 16 16 times, the Elite Eight nine times and the Final Four five teams, making the championship game in 1991. Robinson won national coach of the year honors from Basketball Times in 1991 and d3hoops.com in 2009. He has been the career Division III wins leader since 2004.
“We only ran three plays,’’ said Chris Finch, an All-American on the ‘91 team and now an assistant coach with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. “It was a kind of open offense that is really the essence of the game - moving the ball, sharing it.
“He was very demanding in his own way, but he was always so prepared. We learned that simple things, done well, work all the time.’’
“His ability to integrate the team game with individuals was what he was great at,’’ said Matt Steinmetz, a Diplomat from 1982-86 who is now part of the Golden State Warriors’ broadcast team.
Steinmetz was one of the “hardheaded people,’’ Robinson says he loved for their passion.
“The good ones,’’ he said Tuesday, “are usually hardheaded, because they care.’’
Steinmetz walked away from the team at one point. After missing a couple of practices, he realized, “what an idiot I was being,’’ and went to Robinson.
“I told him I had made a mistake,’’ Steinmetz said. “Typical Glenn, he said, ‘I’d take you back in a second, but it’s not up to me.’’
The team welcomed him back. After a series of wind sprints, so did Robinson.
Also among Robinson’s ex-players are longtime Division One college coach Donnie Marsh; Milwaukee Bucks team president Pete Feigin; Mike Dee, who has been CEO of the San Diego Padres and Miami Dolphins; Lancaster Catholic girls’ basketball coach Charlie Detz; Tom Feraco, who has won 719 games and three state championships as a New Jersey high school coach.
Robinson never won a national championship, and will fall just shy of 1,000 wins.
“No,’’ he shrugged, asked if that bothers him. “It’s just a round number.’’
He never seriously considered leaving F&M.
“We were able to get smart, motivated people,’’ he said. “When you’re around smart, motivated people, work is fun.
“If North Carolina had called, it might have been different, but they never did, and I wasn’t looking.’’
Robinson is still formally an F&M employee at least through June. He plans to play golf, dote on his three grandchildren, and said he’d be open to a role at the college going forward.
He will also be a resource to Nichay, although not on the bench, or even in the gym, during games.
“That’s how (North Carolina’s) Dean Smith and (UCLA’s) John Wooden handled it,’’ Robinson said. “That seems right. I’ll stay away until it seems like the time is right. Then I’ll go to games again.’’