Former Lipscomb University men’s assistant basketball coach and assistant dean of students Mike Roller, longtime Lipscomb Academy athletic director and former Mustang boys’ basketball coach, will retire May 31, 2019.
Roller, Lipscomb Academy associate head of school for athletics, will retire from Lipscomb Academy following a 34-year career at the school. During this time Roller also served as head coach of the Lipscomb Academy varsity boys’ basketball team from 1985-1991 and 1996-2003, and was head boys’ tennis coach from 1985-1996 in addition to serving as director of admissions for a number of years.
Roller also served as assistant men’s basketball coach at Lipscomb University from 1983-85 and 1991-96. While part of the university coaching staff Roller specialized in post player development, and coached former Bison basketball player John Pierce, boys’ basketball coach at Franklin Road Academy, who became collegiate basketball’s all-time leading scorer under Roller’s instruction. Prior to joining the academy faculty in 1985, Roller was assistant dean of students at Lipscomb University for two years. Roller has authored two books on basketball: Offensive Low-Post Play and Perimeter Play.
“It is essential for schools to have strong leadership in the athletics program to not only manage the day-to-day details but also to set and carry out the vision,” said Greg J. Glenn, Lipscomb Academy head of school. “We have been fortunate to have the leadership of Dr. Roller as athletic director for the past 12 years and as a member of the Lipscomb Academy administrative team since 1985. During that time, he has had a tremendous impact on the Mustang athletic program as athletic director and as a coach.”
During Roller’s 12-year tenure as athletic director, the Lipscomb Academy added a number of athletic programs including swimming and hockey at the high school level and baseball, bowling, golf, softball and tennis programs at the middle school level. Roller also oversaw major expansion of Lipscomb Academy athletics facilities with the addition of the Griffith Family Soccer Complex, the installation of an NCAA D-I track at the football field complex, the construction of the McCadams Athletic Center, facilities upgrades at the baseball field, a remodeling of the football locker room area and the addition of two state-of-the-art fitness facilities. In addition, Lipscomb’s Stampede youth sports program was launched during this time and Mustang athletics camps and clinics grew in scope. Also during this time span the Mustang athletic program notched six team state championships and 32 individual state championships.
Not only has Roller impacted the Mustang athletic program, but he has been a leader in the athletics landscape across the state. During the 2016-17 school year, the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association voted to reorganize its athletic divisions which ultimately resulted in independent schools across the state all being classified as part of the TSSAA Division II. Roller played a key role in this transition process and not only represented Lipscomb Academy, but also the interests of secondary school athletic programs across the state. He lobbied for private school representation on the TSSAA Board of Control and was one of three private school representatives appointed to the board in 2016-17 who helped navigate the reorganization process.
“Mike Roller is an outstanding individual who has served as a teacher, coach, administrator and role model for young people many years,” said Bernard Childress, TSSAA executive director. “He is a dedicated professional educator who has a genuine love for the youth he served for decades. Whether it was at Lipscomb Academy or during his time on the TSSAA Board of Control, his decisions were always based on what he felt was best for the youth in our state. He will leave an outstanding legacy and will be difficult to replace. We wish him the best as he enters into a well-deserved retirement.”
One of Roller’s former players is Philip Hutcheson, Lipscomb University athletic director and college basketball’s second-leading all-time scorer, who played for Lipscomb Academy from 1982-86.
“It's often said that ‘the true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not plan to sit’ and in many ways, Coach Roller has done such ‘planting.’ He has coached, mentored and led Lipscomb Academy's programs through many great moments and some challenging ones too,” said Hutcheson. “As he’s led, he’s helped to plant the seeds of even greater things to come, and I believe his impact on the entire Lipscomb Academy community, both past and present, will prove to be lasting, positive and significant.”
Before coming to Lipscomb Roller was head basketball coach of the boys’ (1977-83) and girls’ (1977-79) basketball teams at Georgia Christian School. He has an overall coaching record of 501-89. Roller led his teams to four state basketball championships and to a 125-consecutive game winning streak, the second-longest win streak in the history of high school boys’ basketball. During his career he was also named state coach of the year four times, regional coach of the year seven times and district coach of the year 14 times. He also coached two Tennessee Mr. Basketball players and seven first-team all-state post players.
“When I reflect on my career at Lipscomb and coaching, I think about what I used to think … that as a coach I was the one making sacrifices for the good of the kids and that I was the one ministering to the kids,” said Roller. “And, as a coach you are doing a good bit of that. But I don’t think you can recognize until it’s all over that you are the one who was ministered to. You thought you were ministering to others, but in reality you were the one who was being changed, matured, grown and being shaped really in God’s image if you’re doing it the right way.”
“I believe that we – me, my wife and my kids — were the ones impacted by the people we were around and the experiences that we had at Lipscomb,” he continued. “So I feel gratitude towards Lipscomb for what it has offered me and my family. I am certain, certain that I have been given much more than I have given back.”
Glenn said a nationwide search for Roller’s successor will begin immediately.
For more information about the Lipscomb Academy athletic program, visit www.lipscombacademy.org.