Oct. 6, 2005
Augusta, GA – Former Clemson Head Basketball Coach Bill Foster was the recipient of the Bobby Roberts Award for Lifetime Service to College Basketball from the Augusta Sports Council on Thursday afternoon. The former Tiger mentor was on hand to receive the award from Clint Bryant, athletic director at Augusta State and President of the Augusta Sports Council.
Bryant was a former Clemson assistant under Foster from 1977-84. “This is a special presentation for me,” said Bryant. “Bill Foster gave me my first job in coaching in 1977. He has done so much for my career. But that has been the case for many people when it comes to Bill Foster.”
Among the coaches on hand for the banquet on Thursday was current Clemson Head Coach Oliver Purnell. Purnell and Bryant were both candidates for a graduate assistant coaching position on Foster’s staff in 1977. Purnell decided to take a coaching position at his alma mater, Old Dominion. Foster then hired Bryant.
Foster coached for 30 years and won 532 career games. Ninety-one percent of the student-athletes who stayed in his program until their senior year earned a college degree.
“Bill Foster career was much more than wins and losses,” said South Carolina Head Coach Dave Odom, the keynote speaker of the event. “He prepared young men for success on and off the court. He is one of the great coaches we have had in college basketball.”
Foster served as Clemson’s head coach from 1975-84. During that time he won 156 games and his winning percentage of .595 is second in Clemson history to Rick Barnes .607 figure.
Foster, who now lives in Blowing Rock, NC, led Clemson to a 23-9 season in 1979-80 and the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. It is the only basketball team in Clemson history to reach the Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament. That season included a still school record six wins over top 20 teams, including a victory over #1 ranked Duke by an 87-82 score in overtime. That marked the first time Clemson has defeated the number-one ranked team in basketball.
Foster prepared Tree Rollins, Larry Nance and Horace Grant for NBA careers from Clemson. Overall, 11 of his former players went on to play in the NBA. He won 532 games in his career that included stops at Shorter College, UNC Charlotte, Clemson, Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech. He took Virginia Tech to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in 1995-96 and his 1994-95 Hokie team won the NIT.
“This is a great honor and I am humbled by it,” said Foster. “It was a great ride and wonderful experience to coach 11 players who went on to play in the NBA. But, I take just as much pride in my former players who went on to be successful in other areas.” Foster singled out former Clemson point guard Bobby Conrad in his acceptance speech. Conrad recently was named a Federal Judge in North Carolina. Foster was present for Conrad’s investiture this past summer.
The award Foster received is named in honor of the late Bobby Roberts, who coached at Clemson from 1963-70. Roberts passed away in August of 2002.
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