Will Robinson, 1st Black Coach in Division I, Dies at 96

Pioneer coached at Illinois State in 1970s
By Doug Sweeney,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2008 11:21 PM CDT
A file photo from the early 1970s from Illinois State University shows ISU basketball coach Will Robinson coaching his team in Normal, Ill. Robinson was the first black coach of a Division I program.   (AP Photo/Illinois State University via The Pantagraph)
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(Newser) – Will Robinson, the first black basketball coach at a Division I school and a Detroit Pistons scout who discovered Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman, died Monday. He was 96. Robinson died at a Detroit hospital, Pistons spokesman Matt Dobek said. Robinson had been sick for 15 months and in a nursing home for more than a year, Dobek added.

Robinson broke a racial barrier in the 1970s when he coached Illinois State. He joined the Pistons as a scout in 1976, and the additions of Dumars and Rodman were keys to Detroit's 1989 and 1990 NBA championships.  "Will Robinson was truly a legend and will be missed dearly," Dumars said. "He was a huge inspiration for me and so many others. He was simply the best."