Former Belmont University Athletic Director Larry Striplin, Jr., 82, died yesterday in a Birmingham, Ala. hospital. Striplin established Belmont’s first men’s basketball team in 1952 and served in that capacity for four years, along with coaching baseball and serving as Belmont’s first Athletic Director.
Betty Wiseman, Belmont’s current assistant athletic director and senior women’s administrator, said, “We are all deeply saddened to hear of Larry’s passing. Belmont University has lost a dear friend. Our history in Belmont Athletics will always be traced back to the hiring of Larry as our first athletic director and basketball coach in 1952. We will forever be grateful for his life and legacy in our history and heritage. Larry Striplin will always be remembered as the ‘patriarch’ of Belmont Athletics. I have been deeply moved through the years by his players who continued to show deep love, respect and gratitude for their Coach and the impact he had on their lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Rhonda, and the family.”
Visitation will be held on Fri., Jan. 27, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (2150 Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard, Birmingham, AL). Funeral services will be held on Sat., Jan. 28, at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church (518 19th Street North, Birmingham, AL). Burial will be at 4 p.m. that day at Live Oak Cemetery, 300 Dallas Avenue, in Selma, AL, following a brief graveside service. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Mr. Striplin’s name to Birmingham-Southern College through the Office of Institutional Advancement, 900 Arkadelphia Road, Birmingham, AL 35254; to the Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Program, P.O. Box 10163, Birmingham, AL 35202; or to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, 2150 Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard, Birmingham, AL.
As Belmont’s head basketball coach, Striplin posted a 58-42 record and recorded three winning seasons in his four-year tenure. He produced Belmont Athletics’ first All-American in any sport, Robert Barnes, who continues to be regarded as one of Belmont’s all-time great student-athletes. Larry would later honor this unique athlete by establishing the Robert E. Barnes Graduate Scholarship Award, presented annually to a student-athlete who is entering graduate school upon graduation from Belmont.
Coach Striplin remained a friend and benefactor to the university throughout his life. Belmont’s Striplin Gymnasium was named in his honor, along with the Striplin-Wiseman Athletic Office Complex in the Curb Event Center. In 1980, he was one of the first three charter members of the Belmont Athletic Hall of Fame.
Born November 11, 1929 in Selma, Ala., Larry Striplin, Jr. was a businessman and philanthropist. He attended Spring Hill College in Mobile for two years and graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a B.S. Degree in Education. He continued his education at George Peabody College (now Vanderbilt) in Nashville, Tenn., where he earned his M.A. Degree in Education. He was the CEO of Nelson-Brantley Glass Company and Circle “S” Industries and was instrumental in establishing the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, serving for 13 years as Chairman and a total of 23 years on the hall’s board. Striplin also founded the Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete scholarship program in 1986. Almost $10 million has been distributed to more than 2,200 senior student-athletes since the program’s inception.