TSU athletic director Teresa Phillips announces retirement

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee State has large shoes to fill with Teresa Phillips stepping down as athletic director next June.

Phillips was the women’s basketball coach at TSU from 1989 to 2000 with a career record of 150-151.

In 2001 she was hired as athletic director to run the Tigers athletic department.

In 2003 she made history when she coached the men’s basketball team in a 71-56 loss to Austin Peay as she filled in for suspended coach Hosea Lewis.

Thursday Phillips put out this letter announcing her decision.

Letter to TSU Community

It is with excitement and a little trepidation that I announce this will be my last Homecoming as Athletics Director! I have decided to retire as Athletics Director of Tennessee State University, effective June 30, 2020. The decision is one that I have contemplated for several years and I have finally decided that this year is the right time. 

I shared my intention with President Glenda Glover in mid-August of this year, and she is supportive. I want to thank Dr. Glover for her continued support of me during the last five-plus years and I wish her the best as her administration works to move the university and athletics to new heights.

I am thankful for the opportunity given to me by former AD Bill Thomas to become the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at TSU in May 1989. In this role, I was privileged to coach some of the greatest Lady Tiger players in the history of the program, all of whom are exceptional individuals who have gone on to be very successful in their personal and professional endeavors. I feel so very blessed to have been their coach, their parent in absentia and now to many, their friend. The coaches on my staff over those 11 years became my extended family, and I will forever owe them a debt of gratitude for their commitment to TSU, and for their loyalty and love over the years. I also must thank former President James A. Hefner, for naming me Athletics Director in 2002, and for believing that “students matter most.” Know that I am so grateful for each leg of my career journey at TSU—a journey that I have pursued with care, compassion, honesty, and integrity. 

I leave this position with much pride, reflecting on the many talented student-athletes who have worn the blue and white with integrity. They entered TSU to learn and to play a sport, keeping at the forefront their paramount objectives of obtaining an education and going forth to serve. Their dedication and focus are driving factors, which led to the high graduation rate of our athletes, an achievement for which we can all be proud. Please know that I will be cheering for and alongside you as you battle for those coveted championships under new leadership.

As Athletics Director, one of the issues I am aware of is just how many student-athletes face the challenge of not progressing because of small funding gaps. Sometimes, just a few hundred dollars is all that is standing between a student and his or her goal to progress to graduation. To commemorate my upcoming retirement, today, I am announcing a $5,000 donation to the Athletics department to fund the Teresa Lawrence Phillips TSU Student-Athlete Completion Scholarship. This scholarship is designed to bridge the gap and fund the “last dollar” post semester financial needs for TSU student-athletes, up to $500 each, to graduate.

Thank you to the administration, students, community supporters and alumni of this great institution, Tennessee State University! It has been an honor to represent you as Athletics Director.

~ Teresa L. Phillips
Director of Athletics

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