Tarrell Robinson was named the sixth head coach in the history of the North Carolina A&T women's basketball program on May 2, 2012. Robinson is among the best and brightest young coaches in women’s basketball. He has won a MEAC tournament title, a MEAC regular-season title, has three postseason appearances including an NCAA berth and two WNIT appearances and has finished second twice and third once during various MEAC regular seasons all before age 40. In March of 2016, he took the nation’s fourth-youngest coaching staff and won the program’s third MEAC title with a 65-46 win over Coppin State in the championship game.
Robinson has compiled an 85-40 record over four seasons with a 43-9 record at home in Corbett Sports Center. He is the only basketball coach in school history (men or women) to open their respective N.C. A&T tenure with three consecutive 20-win seasons. Robinson’s teams have also been stellar in the classroom. In 2015, it was announced the Aggies had a perfect single-year APR score of 1000. Five players on Robinson’s 2015-16 team had already earned their undergraduate degrees. Four of those players were and still are pursuing master’s degrees while the other one pursued another undergraduate degree.
Defense and sharing the basketball has also been a staple of Robinson’s program. The Aggies have finished first twice, second once and fourth once in scoring defense in the conference during Robinson’s tenure. The 2013-14 season saw the Aggies finish fourth nationally in scoring defense. The following season the Aggies finished 11th nationally in the same category. Opponents are only averaging 55.2 points per game against the Aggies under Robinson, and the Aggies have plus-7.2 scoring margin against foes since Robinson became head coach.
The Aggies also have not finished lower than third in the conference in assists per game since 2013-14 season including leading the MEAC in 2015-16. In two out of Robinson’s four seasons the Aggies have led the conference in field goal percentage and the team finished third in that area during the 2014-15 season. During the 2013-14 season, the Aggies got off to the best start in school history by going 7-1 as they finished the year 24-7. Also that season, the Aggies made history by becoming the first historically black college or university to win consecutive games in the preseason WNIT. Robinson was also selected to participate in The Center for Coaching Excellence presented by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).
In his first season as head coach, Robinson inherited a talented team, including three players – Amber Calvin, Nikia Gorham and JaQuayla Berry – he recruited to the program. Robinson used that talent to win 22 games in his rookie season, which is more wins than any other first-year coach in program history. When Gorham went down with a knee injury midway through the season, Robinson inserted redshirt freshman center Eboni Ross in the lineup. Ross went on to win MEAC Rookie of the Year honors.
Robinson returned to N.C. A&T after spending three years as an assistant coach, recruiting coordinator and associate head coach at Virginia Commonwealth under head coach Beth Cunningham. Before his stint at VCU, Robinson spent four successful seasons at N.C. A&T under legendary head coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs. Robinson made a name for himself as a talented recruiter, having brought in highly-touted players to N.C. A&T and helping to lead the Aggies to consecutive MEAC regular-season championships starting in 2007.
Robinson helped Bibbs resurrect a dormant program from 2005-09. After a 9-19 season in 2005-06, Robinson assisted Bibbs in signing what turned out to be some of the best players in school history, starting with Fayetteville, N.C., native Ta'Wuana Cook. Cook went on to be the program's first MEAC Rookie of the Year, its second all-time leading scorer and its all-time leader in assists. He was also instrumental in signing two-time MEAC all-tournament performer Lamona Smalley and 2009 MEAC Player of the Year Brittanie Taylor-James. When Jaleesa Sams, who was ranked as high as No. 31 nationally by Scouts.com, signed to play at N.C. A&T in 2007, the women's basketball team had its most highly-touted recruit in history.
From 2007-09, Robinson and his recruits helped the Aggies compile a 51-15 record and their first MEAC tournament championship since 1994, when they took the title in 2009. The MEAC championship win earned the Aggies a berth to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 as they were awarded a 14th seed, the highest seed for an HBCU team at the time. Cook, Sams, Taylor-James and Berry are all 1,000-point career scorers and all-conference performers. His tenure as an Aggie assistant also yielded 13 all-conference selections. He was promoted to associate head coach prior to the 2008-09 season.
After leaving N.C. A&T for VCU, Robinson continued to excel as a recruiter. He was promoted to associate head coach in May 2011 at VCU after serving as the program's recruiting coordinator. He helped the Rams make three-consecutive postseason appearances from 2009-12. The Rams also made it to the third round of the WNIT in 2010 and 2012. He helped land back-to-back classes that ranked among the best in the Colonial Athletic Association, including players that ranked among the Top 30 in their respective positions.
His 2011-12 class included the Ram's most highly-recruited player in center Aprill McRae, who was named the 22nd-best post player in the nation by ESPN. McRae would go on to transfer to N.C. A&T where she was a two-time second-team All-MEAC selection under Robinson. In 2011, Robinson was recognized as one of the nation’s top 25 Mid-Major women’s basketball assistants by CollegeInsider.com. Robinson was also invited to the prestigious Nike Villa 7 Consortium in 2011 and 2012. The Nike Villa 7 Consortium is a partnership with the VCU Center for Sport Leadership and brings together the country's elite assistant basketball coaches to help prepare the next generation of college basketball leaders.
Prior to his successful stints at N.C. A&T and VCU, Robinson spent two seasons as a graduate assistant for the N.C. A&T men's basketball program under head coach Curtis Hunter. He worked with student-athletes with individual skill development and served as the film exchange coordinator. He also coordinated the summer basketball camp and taught classes in the university's Health and Physical Education Department. He then worked two seasons as the assistant boys basketball coach at High Point Andrews High School, where he helped Andrews compile a 42-13 record and a pair of appearances in the NCHSAA State Tournament.
Robinson has also participated as an instructor in basketball camps hosted by NCAA Division I head coaches Roy Williams, the late Skip Prosser and Fran McCafferty. He was also an active participant in the award-winning National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) at N.C. A&T. Robinson also has taught at risk children at local elementary schools as a part of the university's Gear-Up Foundation Program.
Robinson first made his mark at N.C. A&T as a student-athlete at N.C. A&T. He played on the men's basketball team from 1997-2001, and had a stellar playing career at N.C. A&T. He scored 934 career points, grabbed more than 700 rebounds and blocked 35 shots during his career. He led the Aggies in rebounding his junior season. Robinson attended E.E. Smith High School in Fayetteville, N.C., where he was an Honorable Mention McDonald's All-American and lettered three years on the varsity level. He was an all-conference and all-regional performer as a senior and led the Golden Bulls to a conference championship and regional runner-up finish in the state playoffs.
Robinson earned his B.A., degree in psychology in 2001 from N.C. A&T and was enrolled in the graduate program at N.C. A&T, where he was a candidate for a master's degree in Human Performance and Leisure Studies.
Robinson and his wife, Kelli, have three children, Jordan, Jada and Lauren.