Former Southern star basketball player and head coach Tommy Green, a 1991 inductee to the school’s Hall of Fame, died Friday. He was 59.
Current Southern men’s basketball coach and athletic director Roman Banks and Cheryl Michelet, communications director at BREC, confirmed Green’s death Friday. Green had served as BREC’s director of athletics for several years, ending in the fall of 2012.
A 1978 cum laude journalism graduate at Southern, Green was a longtime assistant men’s basketball at Southern, starting in 1987-88, and took over the program in September 1996 after Ben Jobe left to take over at Tuskegee.
Green went 74-64 in five seasons before being let go after the first year of a three-year contract, in March 2001.
Green was selected in the second round of the NBA draft by the New Orleans Jazz in 1978 after the point guard helped Southern to the Southwestern Athletic Conference title that season. He was co-captain that season, his fourth as a starter after a standout career at Baton Rouge’s McKinley High.
“Not only did Southern lose a hero, but Baton Rouge lost a hero,” Banks said. “We should take time to reflect and try to fill every day the best we can. I want to give condolences to his wife, Sabrina, his children and the rest of his family. He’ll be missed. He’s going to a better place.”
After the NBA, Green was head coach for a number of area high school teams: West Feliciana (1981-83), Lee (1983-85) and Capitol (1985-86).
Banks said Green had been ill for some time. Banks said he visited Green on Thursday before leaving for the football team’s Saturday game at Georgia.
Banks was athletic director and men’s basketball coach at Southern-Shreveport when he was hired by Green as his assistant after Green was promoted in 1996.
“No question, the day is a tough one for the Southern family,” Banks said, “and on a personal note, for someone who got his first Division I coaching job, to be a part of his family, to see his kids grow up. I got an opportunity to be the coach I am today because of Tommy. He was a great ambassador for Southern and for Baton Rouge, always a great hometown guy.
“It’s a tough time. The Southern family will be there to support his family.”