Stallings, now first in wins, still views Skinner as standard for kindness

Kevin Stallings knows he’s never going to be Vanderbilt’s most beloved men’s basketball coach.

Roy Skinner holds that distinction as he has for some time. And that’s fine with Stallings, who had a hard enough time with the fact that he surpassed Skinner as the program’s winningest coach with Friday’s 80-69 victory over Lipscomb at Memorial Gymnasium.

“I wish somehow I could continue to win a lot of games and just tie his record and not break it because he’s that guy … you just don’t want to break his records,” Stallings said following the contest. “He was too nice a guy.

“I’m glad it didn’t take very long to break the record because it bugged me, it bugged me [Friday]. I’m glad it wasn’t one of those things where we lost and I had to do it two or three times. I was ready for that to be over with.”

Stallings opened his 15th season at Vanderbilt – and tied Skinner’s mark of 278 wins – with an 86-80 victory over Georgia State last Tuesday. The Lipscomb game was his first chance to break the tie.

The achievement was recognized at the end of the game with an announcement followed by a video tribute – to Skinner.

“Coach Skinner is a guy that’s very, very popular – was very popular with his players, was very popular with the people who coached here because he always welcomed everyone,” Stallings said. “He tried to make it better for whoever was the coach, I think. He certainly tried to make it better for me. We all obviously miss him. He’s a legendary guy here for us and guy we take great pride in.”

Skinner passed away in October 2010 at 80 years old.

He is a member of Vanderbilt’s athletics Hall of Fame, one of nine in the second induction class (2009). He was a four-time SEC Coach of the Year, led the Commodores to the 1965 NCAA tournament elite eight and helped integration of the SEC when he recruited and coached Perry Wallace.

His career record was 278-135. Stallings is currently 279-176.

“I think that it means a lot because [Stallings] is so competitive,” senior swingman Rod Odom said. “That’s something you see being around him every day – he’s a very competitive individual. More than it being a record … it’s just more about winning for him and that’s a good measure of how much he’s won and all the good things he’s done here.”

Next up for the Commodores is a game at Butler, 5 p.m. Tuesday (Fox Sports 1).