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7 Jun 2016

Bill Tipps left his mark on girls basketball

Bill Tipps left his mark on girls basketball

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The AAU girls basketball tournaments that span age groups and take place throughout the country serve to promote the sport. They also honor and preserve the legacy of Bill Tipps.

Eddie Clinton is involved with the AAU program in West Tennessee and benefitted from Tipps' assistance as the organization's national chair. Clinton saw firsthand Tipps' people skills and diligence in action.

"It was a labor of love for Bill," Clinton said. "Whatever it took to build girls basketball, he wanted to do. Girls basketball would not be what it is today without Bill Tipps."

Such work is being honored with Tibbs' induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. He is one of six members in the Class of 2016. The ceremony is at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Tennessee Theatre.

Along with the inductees, the 1996 U.S. women's Olympic team will be honored this weekend as "Trailblazers of the Game." Team members will convene and celebrate the 20-year anniversary of winning the Olympic gold medal in Atlanta.

For the first time, the Hall of Fame also will present the "For the Love of the Game" Inspiration and Courage Award. The first recipient will be Lauren Hill. The former player at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati died in April 2015 of terminal brain cancer.

A documentary about Hill will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Regal Riviera in downtown Knoxville. Admission is free.

Tipps, who died in 2011, was head of AAU girls basketball from 1979 to 1991. He was the director for 75 girls basketball national tournaments and at least 40 national tournaments in other sports. He was a volunteer with AAU girls basketball for 36 years and was inducted into the organization's volunteer hall of fame in 2001.

Tipps was from Tullahoma and also served on the hall of fame's board of directors. He initially got involved in AAU because his daughter, Gail, played basketball.

"He never coached," Gail said. "He always could see the bigger picture."

Gail's father had business and management experience. He operated a grocery store and started a drive-in eatery named the "Jiffy Dip." Gail said her father was the first manager of the bookstore at Motlow State Community College in Tullahoma. In 1989, the school named the bookstore in his honor.

Along with his business sense, Tipps' personality was useful for his AAU work. Clinton thinks Tipps' equanimity was especially crucial since he worked with countless people in different parts of the country.

"He would never get upset about anything," Clinton said. "He and his wife Ann were a team. Ann would get upset. He'd be the one who would calm the waters. He was like the captain of a ship.

"I don't mean he didn't ruffle feathers. He did. But he was able to handle that."

Gail remembered her parents poring over birth certificates to make sure players were slotted correctly in tournaments. No job was too small or too painstaking.

Gail said that regardless of any work involved, her father's motive always was "to provide the best experience for the girls."

"He was always smiling," Gail said. "People trusted him and he proved they were right to trust him."

Dan Fleser covers women's basketball. Follow him at

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