Friendship leads tutor to IU Southeast

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Henry Robinson’s path to becoming part of the IUS men’s basketball program was not a typical one.

Henry Robinson

Henry Robinson

The 62-year-old tutor and administrative assistant for men’s basketball said his career as a tutor began as a lark after retiring from his job with the Army Corps of Engineers 12 years ago.

Robinson returned to the University of Louisville and earned Rank I certification in addition to his master’s degree in education.

“I taught school for a couple years and realized it wasn’t my thing,” Robinson said.

Robinson then applied for a job at Crawford Gym at the University of Louisville and eventually became a tutor for University of Louisville athletes after school officials learned about his academic background.

Robinson said he worked 50-55 hours a week tutoring athletes from several different programs at the University of Louisville. In 2004, Robinson was named tutor of the year at the University of Louisville.

Robinson also suffered a setback in 2004 when a stroke temporarily sidelined his tutoring career. Robinson said he was taking it easy and getting his health back when an old friend from Crawford Gym called.

IUS men’s basketball head coach Wiley Brown said he noticed early on Robinson’s ability to connect with students at Crawford Gym.

“He was always so nice,” Brown said. “He’s been like a father figure to me ever since.”
Robinson said the respect between him and Coach Brown is mutual.

“I admire him (Coach Brown) because he’s always improving himself,” Robinson said.
When Brown became head coach in 2007, Robinson came on board to support the team academically.

“People are puzzled why I do this on a volunteer basis,” Robinson said. “I do it as a friend because I believe in what he’s doing at IUS and with these players.”

Robinson said he has been impressed with IU Southeast, particularly academically.

“I don’t think their undergrad program has to take a backseat to anybody,” Robinson said. “I think it’s the best kept secret in Louisville.”

Robinson oversees study hall for the players each week on campus and also conducts study sessions when the team is on the road.

Assistant men’s basketball coach Alvin Thomas is Robinson’s roommate on road trips. Thomas said he and Robinson visited a museum last year while in Branson, Missouri and Robinson could have led the tour.

“He knew more than the guide,” Thomas said. “He made it fun.”
 Robinson said being around young people invigorates him. Robinson said he doesn’t think fans always appreciate the difficulties of balancing athletics and academics.

“It is really one of the hardest jobs in the world, being a student-athlete,” Robinson said.

Robinson said the keys to being a successful tutor are motivation and showing respect to the players. Robinson said monitoring the players’ progress is also very important and he never asks for special treatment from professors.

“It’s an even playing field in the classroom,” Robinson said. “There’s no favoritism.”

Robinson said he challenges the players to graduate with a 3.0 G.P.A.

“I like to tell them that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t guarantee success, but it opens a lot of doors,” Robinson said.

Robinson grew up in Alexandria, Va. , just outside Washington, D.C. He joined the Air Force in 1967 and went back to get his bachelor’s degree four years later.

Robinson moved to Louisville in 1971 and has lived there ever since except for several years he spent at the University of Tennessee at Martin earning his master’s degree in education.  

Robinson has three sons and two grandsons.

By MATTHEW LEE MILLER
Staff Writer
mlm5@ius.edu