Tammy George, the all-time leader in victories at USC Upstate, is beginning her 14th season overall as a head coach and 12th at the helm of the Spartan women’s basketball program.
When George inherited the Upstate women’s basketball team in 2005-06, the program hadn’t had a winning season in seven years. Now, George has guided the Spartans to an NCAA Division II Tournament appearance and has also led the team to its best year in 15 years, as the 2009-10 Spartans won 20 games in just their third year of Division I play. Upstate has also made three Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) Tournament appearances, in 2010-11, 2013-14 and most recently in 2015-16.
In 13 seasons as a head coach, George has established herself at both the NAIA and NCAA levels, having coached both Brevard and Upstate to berths in their respective national tournaments. In addition, she has coached four conference Players of the Year: Upstate’s Chelsea McMillan in 2010-11 and Yakeeshia Ross in 2005-06, and Brevard’s Kris May Richardson and Ayana McWilliams, who were named Co-Players of the Year in 2004-05. She has also coached an A-Sun Freshman of the Year and won two Conference Coach of the Year honors.
In 2015-16, George guided the Spartans to their best season ever during Division I play, going 22-12 overall and 10-4 in ASUN play. Upstate finished 3rd in the ASUN regular season and won their second conference tournament game after defeating North Florida 76-50. Brittany Starling was a College Sports Madness Fourth Team All-Mid Major selection and was the only player named ASUN First Team All-Conference as well as to the All-Academic Team. Starling became the first player in school history, and tenth in league history, to score 1,000 career points and pull down 1,000 career rebounds. Brittany Clency eaarned ASUN Second Team All-Conference honors after leading the Spartans in minutes played and became the 16th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. The Spartans were selected to the WBI Tournament for the third time in program history as they advanced to the semifinal round thanks to victories over Northern Kentucky and Western Illinois before a 79-53 loss at Weber State. Starling signed a professional contract with Kangoeroes Willebroek in Belgium Division I, becoming the third Spartan (Shelby Hicks, Yakeeshia Ross) to sign a professional contract.
She guided the Spartans to their third-best season during Division I play in 2013-14, going 17-15 overall and 11-7 in ASun play. Upstate finished 4th in the A-Sun regular season standing and received the No. 3 seed, its best since going Division I, in the conference tournament. The Spartans would capture their first-ever A-Sun Tournament victory after defeating East Tennessee State 76-66 in Spartanburg. Brittany Clency became the first Upstate player to earn A-Sun All-Tournament Team honors while being named Second Team All-Conference. George also helped lead Upstate to its first five-game winning streak since 2009-10 as it was victorious over A-Sun opponents East Tennessee State, Mercer, Kennesaw State, North Florida and Jacksonville. Upstate would fall at College of Charleston, 85-71, in the first round of the WBI Tournament.
George also reached a career milestone in 2013-14 as she recorded her 150th career victory as Upstate held off UNC Asheville, 67-66, in Asheville on Dec. 7, 2013.
She coached two All-Conference selections in 2012-13 as the Spartans posted a 12-18 record while going 8-10 in the A-Sun for the second consecutive season. Tee’Ara Copney wrapped up her career as a Spartan by being named All-Conference for a fourth time. Copney led Upstate in scoring with 13.0 points to rank 6th in the league in scoring. Brittany Starling was selected to the All-Freshman Team after posting one of the best seasons by a freshman in program history. Starling led the team in rebounding with 6.3 per game while finishing 2nd in scoring with 10.3 points.
Copney picked up her third career All-Conference accolade in 2011-12 as she was named to the First Team after the Spartans went 6-3 at home against A-Sun opponents. She eclipsed the 1,000-point career plateau after leading the team in scoring with 15.7 points and recorded two 30-plus point games. Copney also ranked 6th nationally in free-throw percentage after finishing the season shooting 88.6 percent at the charity stripe.
In 2010-11, Upstate posted a 17-13 record, marking its second-straight winning season. The Spartans finished tied for third in the Atlantic Sun standings after going 13-7 in conference play. Upstate earned a postseason berth into the WBI Tournament, which marked the university’s first Division I postseason appearance. The Spartans dropped a 103-72 decision in the WBI to Elon.
The Spartans made some dramatic leaps in 2009-10, with George leading Upstate to a 20-9 overall record and a 14-6 finish in the A-Sun, good for third in the league to help George earn A-Sun Coach of the Year honors. Along the way, the Spartans beat all 10 teams in the conference, including conference champion ETSU. The team also featured the first All-A-Sun First Team selection in McMillan and Copney the A-Sun Freshman of the Year.
With an extremely young team in 2008-09 thanks to a seven-member recruiting class, George led the team to a remarkable improvement in its second go-round in Division I. From 5-24 in 2007-08 to 13-16 in 2008-09, an eight-win improvement - the 20th best in all of Division I. A final RPI of 321 out of 338 teams in 2007-08 to a final RPI of 242 in 2008-09. The 79-team jump was the 32nd best improvement in Division I, a leap that helped them finish among the top 10 percent of all Division I schools. From a 1-15 A-Sun record to an 8-12 record, the Spartans made a leap of seven wins and five spots up the conference ladder from last to seventh. It was the fifth-most dramatic turnaround in A-Sun history.
The Spartans also grouped together a few firsts during the season, as it won its first A-Sun game on the road, its first Division I non-conference game at the Hodge Center and it had its first Preseason All-A-Sun selection in Hawkins. Kendra Wallace also became the first player in school history to earn A-Sun All-Freshman honors. The team also set two new school records, as it posted a .715 free throw percentage and notched 114 blocked shots. In the classroom, the Spartans also set new high marks, as nine players earned A-Sun All-Academic Team honors, besting the mark of eight set in 2003.
George guided the Spartans into the waters of Division I in 2007-08, leading the team to five wins. Injuries plagued the team, cutting short the seasons of the team’s point guard and power forward. However, Hawkins still won the league scoring title.
George helped the 2006-07 team to an 11-17 record and kept the team in the pack in the Peach Belt Conference, finishing the regular season in fifth place at 6-10.
She had a tremendous first season with USC Upstate in 2005-06, leading the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1994-95 season and coaching Yakeeshia Ross to Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year honors. USC Upstate finished with a 16-14 overall record, including a 12-8 mark in the Peach Belt Conference and the No. 2 seed in the Peach Belt Tournament.
George came to USC Upstate from Brevard where she spent two years as the head coach of the Tornados women’s hoops team. Her brief stint at Brevard was successful, leading the team to a 21-1 conference record and the regular season conference championship in 2004-05 after being picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll. She earned Appalachian Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors and guided Brevard into the NAIA Division II National Tournament. She coached the league’s co-Players of the Year (Richardson and McWilliams) and the Defensive Player of the Year. Richardson and McWilliams each earned Honorable Mention All-American honors as well. She compiled a 43-21 record over her two seasons at Brevard.
Prior to her stint at Brevard, George was an assistant coach at three NCAA Division I schools. She served as an assistant at UNC Asheville from 2002-03 where she helped coach two of the top 11 scorers in the Big South Conference. As an assistant at Wofford College from 2001-02, she helped guide the Lady Terriers to its best Division I record in winning 16 games, advancing to the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament, and helped coach the Southern Conference Player of the Year. As an assistant at Gardner-Webb from 2000-01, she helped sign the top rated recruiting class in the history of the program. Prior to her stint on the college level, she served as the junior varsity coach at her alma mater East Henderson High School where she guided the squad to three division titles and a 47-15 record in three years from 1996-99.
George is a former member of Charlotte’s women’s basketball team, where she played from 1989-93, leading the 49ers in assists, steals and three-pointers as a senior in 1992-93. She owns Charlotte’s all-time 3-point field goal percentage record and is among the all-time leaders in steals and assists. She competed in the 1993 National College Slam Dunk/Three-Point Shootout shown nationally on ESPN during the Men’s Final Four in New Orleans, La. She finished third in the 3-point shooting portion of the contest. She graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in child and family development.
A native of Henderson County, N.C., George was a standout and three-year starter at point and shooting guard on the East Henderson High School squad. She helped lead the Lady Eagles to the 3-A State Championship game in 1988. As a senior in 1988-89, she averaged 24 points and eight rebounds per game en route to being named the Western North Carolina Player of the Year by the Asheville Citizen- Times. She garnered first team all-state and Converse All-America honors in 1989 and was named Henderson County Player of the Year in 1988 and 1989. She also earned Tournament Most Valuable Player honors at the State Regionals in 1988. Her jersey was retired in 2008 after becoming the school’s all-time leader in points, steals and assists.
George was a member of the Asheville Rage/Smoky Mountain Swarm traveling exhibition basketball teams from 1996-2000, playing several exhibition games against Division I opponents.
George and her husband David, who is an engineer for General Electric, live in Zirconia, N.C.