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Billy Tubbs 1935-2020

Billy Tubbs’ up-tempo style of basketball became iconic for racking up points with a run-and-gun flair and full-court press.

Coach Billy Tubbs on the sidelines of a basketball game

Courtesy of TCU Athletics

Billy Tubbs 1935-2020

Billy Tubbs’ up-tempo style of basketball became iconic for racking up points with a run-and-gun flair and full-court press.

Tubbs, men’s basketball coach at TCU from 1994 until 2002, died Nov. 1, 2020.

During his reign at TCU, Tubbs was named the 1998 Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. His perfect 14-0 record in conference play and WAC Pacific Division win in 1998 earned the “Billy Ball” squad an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

“We all loved Billy Ball. It was fun and entertaining,” said Mike Jones ’01, a guard who now teaches physical education and coaches at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia. “As a player and a student, Coach truly believed in me, and by simply believing in my skills, that gave me the confidence to perform at a high level.”

As a Lamar University student-athlete in the ’50s, Tubbs lettered in basketball. He was an assistant coach there for more than a decade before taking a head coach position at Southwestern University. Later, as the head coach at the University of Oklahoma, he led the Sooners to second-place finishes in the 1988 NCAA Tournament and the 1991 National Invitation Tournament. 

“Tubbs was more than a coach to me,” said Lee Nailon, a TCU All-American who went on to play in the NBA. “He was a father figure, a teacher as well as a friend. Without him I wouldn’t be here to tell this story or been able to chase my dream to play in the NBA.”

Tubbs led 12 teams to the NCAA Tournament and six to the NIT.

“He’s one of the great college coaches and had success here as the head coach at TCU,” said TCU men’s basketball Coach Jamie Dixon ’87. “Coach Tubbs’ style was unique, and he was his own man. He will be deeply missed.”