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. He returned to 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 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 A&T and helping to lead the Aggies to consecutive MEAC regular-season championships starting in 2007.
The Aggies are coming off a 20-11 ledger during the 2014-15 season that produced their third consecutive 20-win season under Robinson. A&T put together an 11-game winning streak before falling in the MEAC semifinals for the third straight season. Defensively, the Aggies continued to perform well and finished the season ranked 11th in scoring defense, holding their opponents to an average of 54.0 points a game.
The Aggies also led the conference in scoring margin (+6.4) and rebounding defense (33.8). A&T produced two all-MEAC honorees in 2014-15 in Aprill McRae and Debbie Smith.
In only his second year at the helm, Robinson led the North Carolina A&T Aggies to another successful season during the 2013-14 year. The Aggies finished the season 24-7 and got off to their best start in school history with a 7-1 mark. A&T posted their seventh 20-win season, two consecutive seasons under Robinson, along with two straight appearances in the postseason. A&T made its fourth appearance in the WNIT in 2014 where they fell in the opening round to South Florida.
The Aggies made history on Nov. 16, 2013 and became the first HBCU to win consecutive games in the preseason WNIT when they defeated Stetson 73-68. Along with their 2009 preseason WNIT win over Chicago State, the Aggies have won more preseason WNIT games than any other HBCU.
A&T remained a powerhouse in the MEAC and was the 2013-14 MEAC regular-season runner up for the second straight season under Robinson. Strong defense and taking care of home have been staples during the Robinson era. In his first season they ranked 38th nationally in scoring defense. By year two, the Aggies were fourth nationally (54.6) in scoring defense. In two years under Robinson, the Aggies are an impressive 24-3 at Corbett Sports Center. In May, Robinson was selected to participate in The Center for Coaching Excellence presented by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).
In his first season, 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 as a head coach, which is more wins than any other first-year coach in program history. A&T led the MEAC in field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage in Robinson’s year one.
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’s impressive first season also included a 13-3 conference record and a second-place finish in the MEAC.
Robinson, a 2001 graduate of A&T, 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 A&T in 2007, the women's basketball team had its most highly-touted recruit in history.
Robinson's recruiting efforts paid off. From 2007-09, Robinson and his recruits helped the Aggies compile a 51-15 record and their first MEAC tournament championship since 1994. The Aggies earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament in 2009, and were awarded a 14th seed. At the time, it was the highest seed ever given to an historically black college or university. 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 establishing himself as one of the best recruiters in the MEAC.
After leaving 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 April McRae, who was named the 22nd post player in the nation by ESPN. 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 A&T and VCU, Robinson coached at the high school level and was a graduate assistant for the A&T men's basketball program. Robinson worked for two seasons as the assistant boys basketball coach at High Point (N.C.) Andrews High School, where he helped Andrews compile a 42-13 record and a pair of appearances in the NCHSAA State Tournament.
Before coaching at Andrews, Robinson spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the A&T men's basketball program under head coach Curtis Hunter. He served as the graduate assistant for the men's basketball team for the 2001-02 season. 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 has participated as an instructor in basketball camps hosted by NCAA Division I head coaches Roy Williams (North Carolina), 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 also made his mark as a student-athlete at A&T. He played on the men's basketball team from 1997-2001, and had a stellar playing career at 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 helped lead 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 and was enrolled in the graduate program at 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.