Taylor O. Tates Locke, a native of Batesville, Indiana, was the sixteenth Clemson men's basketball coach between 1970 and 1975. Hired away from Miami University of Ohio on March 18, 1970, he enjoyed some success in improving the roundball program, but had a very loose touch on NCAA and ACC recruiting regulations, and was released from university employment March 21, 1975 when his contract had run out, by which time his program was under investigation by the NCAA. He had already been put on off-campus recruiting restriction until August 1, 1975 by the ACC in the fall of 1974 for offering a recruit's mother personal transportation, in violation of conference rules.
The Clemson basketball program would be placed on NCAA probation in the fall of 1975 in the wake of the investigation into Locke's offers of paying player's mother's rent and buying them automobiles, among the most egregious charges.
For his automobile offers, he would be dubbed "Trader Tates" in send-up articles and faux advertisements published in The Buzzard.
Locke had a 62-70 record at Clemson, and coached the Tigers to their first-ever top 20 season, a No. 19 ranking in the final UPI poll in the 1974-1975 season. That team featured Clemson's all-time leading rebounder, Wayne Tree Rollins, and played in the NIT Invitational in New York, the Tigers' first post-season tournament appearance in history.
Locke was 43-15 in games played at Littlejohn Coliseum, and he posted a 6-2 career record in overtime games, best in Clemson history on a percentage basis. Locke defeated five ranked teams while at Clemson, including wins over No. 3-ranked Maryland, No. 10-ranked North Carolina and No. 4-ranked N.C. State in the same season (1974-1975).
Locke would go onto other basketball jobs, including coaching the Buffalo Braves for a half-season in 1977, and later as head coach at Indiana State University. He later served as a scout and general manager for the Portland Trail Blazers. He wrote a tell-all book, Caught in the Net, published in May 1982, (Leisure Press, ISBN: 0880110449), about his involvement in the recruiting scandal.
"Official" Athletic Department biographies and histories omit all references to Locke's misdeeds and the subsequent probation.
The movie Blue Chips starring Nick Nolte, is said to be based on Locke's career.
|Preceded by: Bobby Roberts||Clemson University Basketball Coaches||Succeeded by: Bill Foster|