VandyMania Interview: Roy Skinner, Part II

Roy Skinner, the winningest coach in Vanderbilt basketball history, talked with VandyMania about his players, his coaching style, and some of his favorite (and least favorite) memories. [Part II]

VM: As far as being low-key, that's just your personality, right? 

Skinner: It must be (laugh). I jumped up and down a few times, but it didn't help any. So I'd just stay on the bench. 

VM: Two guys that you were always remembered as having some great coaching battles with-- Adolph Rupp and Ray Mears. Talk about your relationship with those two guys. 

Skinner: Adolph Rupp-- I grew up idolizing him. To me nothing was better than Kentucky basketball, and when I went to Vanderbilt and had the chance to coach against him, I thought I was in heaven. That first year when I was acting head coach, we won, and Kentucky was No. 1 in the nation, which was really a big deal. I was floating on a cloud. Ray Mears at Tennessee, he was one of those four-corner coaches-- until he got Bernard King and couple of other really outstanding players, and they started playing basketball. But he was an outstanding coach. 

VM: Back in those days the house was always packed when we were playing Tennessee or Kentucky. There was just an electricity in the place. It seems like it's not quite what it used to be. 

Skinner: Well, the gym has changed so much. When I started, we had just over 6,000 seats. A season ticket for 15 home games cost 15 dollars. As we got a better team, the more people came, and tickets got hard to get. We added more seats. It just kept mushrooming. I can't explain it, but it was an awful lot of fun. 

VM: You had some opportunities at different points in your career to leave Vanderbilt, didn't you? 

Skinner: The biggest one was when I had a chance to go to Purdue. I went up there for a weekend and visited with them, and they offered me a job. I had a list of 12 things that I wanted Vanderbilt to do, things I had asked for through the years, and didn't get. And they came through with every one of them, and I've been happy ever since. I didn't have enough sense to ask for a raise every once in a while, I was so happy (laugh). 

VM: Your decision to retire at the end of the 1976 season. Tell me what factored into that. 

Skinner: I was worn out. I'd been coaching basketball for 25 years, even in the summertime in the off-season I was thinking about coaching and recruiting. There just wasn't any off time. After 25 years I got out of it and got into the insurance business, and I didn't work weekends and didn't work nights, and I lived like a normal person (laugh). I started recuperating, and I enjoyed it, but I still enjoy the game of basketball. Today I'm completely retired. I still have a few clients in the insurance business. I have a friend who does the work involved if there is any. I'm not doing anything but having a good time. Fishing a little bit and playing a lot. 

VM: You have grandchildren? 

Skinner: I have nine. The oldest will be in college next year, and the youngest is nine months old. Top Stories