2017 Hall of Fame: Teresa Lawrence Phillips

Aug. 30, 2017

Teresa Lawrence Phillips is no stranger to firsts.

As a member of the Vanderbilt women’s basketball team from 1978-80, Phillips became the first female African-American student-athlete to suit up for a Commodore program. Phillips garnered the university’s first-ever Lady Commodore Athlete of the Year award in 1979, and following her graduation she became the first woman ever to coach a Division-I men’s basketball team.

For the past 15 years, Phillips has served as director of athletics at Tennessee State University in Nashville. Prior to her current role, she spent 11 seasons as head coach of the Lady Tigers basketball program, helping TSU win its first Ohio Valley Conference title and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in team history. Phillips also coached at Fisk University for four seasons, winning WIAC Coach of the Year twice.

In 2003, Phillips became a pioneer when she coached the Tennessee State men’s basketball team in a matchup against Austin Peay. Phillips had dismissed the Tigers’ head coach, Nolan Richardson III, earlier that season and suspended interim coach Hosea Lewis for that game. Thus, the veteran Phillips opted to stand in as head coach for one game – which ended up making history.

Sports Illustrated named Phillips among the “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports by Sports Illustrated” in 2003, and a year later The Tennessean tabbed her as one of “10 Legends in Women’s Basketball in Tennessee.”

All 2017 Vanderbilt Hall of Fame inductees will be honored during the Commodores' home football opener against Alabama A&M on Sept. 9.

Proud Sponsors of Commodore Athletics