Tarrell Robinson is not even 40 years old, yet he is already one of the most impactful figures in the history of Aggies basketball from his time as a men’s player to his time as the associate head coach of the women’s program to now his substantial status as the head coach of N.C. A&T women’s basketball. He came to the N.C. A&T as an assistant in 2005 and since that point the women’s program has produced five Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles, three MEAC tournament titles, two MEAC Rookies of the Year (Eboni Ross, T’Wuana Cook) and a MEAC Player of the Year (Brittanie Taylor-James).
Robinson was named the sixth head coach in the history of the program on May 2, 2012. As head coach, he was won two of the last three MEAC tournament and regular-season titles (2016, 2018). As he enters his seventh season, the Aggies have made four postseason appearances – two NCAA tournaments (2016, 2018) and two WNIT’s. Robinson has four 20-win seasons as the Aggies head man and his teams have finished lower than third place only once during his tenure.
Robinson has compiled is 122-67 (.646) in six seasons and has the highest winning percentage in school history. The Aggies are also 64-17 (.790) at Corbett Sports Center and 73-23 (.760) against MEAC foes under Robinson. 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 pursued master’s degrees. Center Alexus Lessears was named N.C. A&T’s 2018 academic athlete of the year after posting a 4.0 for the 2017-18 school year.
Defense and sharing the basketball has also been a staple of Robinson’s program. The Aggies have finished first twice in scoring defense and have finished no lower than fourth only once in Robinson’s six seasons. Opponents are only averaging 56.9 points per game against N.C. A&T while being defeated by an average scoring margin of 5.9 points since Robinson became the 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 conference in 2015-16.
The program has also made some of its most significant historic achievements under Robinson. 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. During the 2017-18 season, the Aggies went into their NCAA tournament game against South Carolina winners of 19 of their last 20 games a 4-7 start.
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 coached four seasons under Bibbs. 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 JaQuayla 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 leading the Aggies to the 2016 MEAC title. 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 Sports 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 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 first made his mark at N.C. A&T as a student-athlete. He played on the men's basketball team from 1997-2001. 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. 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.