June 13, 2024 

HBCU notebook: Tamisha Augustin happy to return to her roots at Hampton University

‘How you treat people matters’

Whenever Tamisha Augustin slows down, she may appreciate the journey that returned her to her roots. But for now, her focus is completing a to-do list longer than a CVS receipt.

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Augustin has been a whirlwind of activity since becoming Hampton University’s 10th women’s basketball coach in March. The Hampton, Virginia, native and Bethel High graduate has been grappling with the challenges of recruiting, hiring staff, meeting with donors, attending conference meetings, traveling and engaging in difficult conversations with current team members.

She barely has had time to catch her breath or celebrate her recent birthday, which is fine because her passion for victory and excellence provide all the oxygen she needs.

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“What’s breathing when you’re starting a program?” Augustin said with a laugh to The Next. “It’s been nonstop in a good way. I am excited to return, as I’ve been all over the place. When God says move, I get up and move. I came back here to make a difference. It’s never easy, but I give it to God and go from there. This chapter is for you, and that’s what I follow.”

Augustin returns to her hometown after working under Kelly Finley at Florida. In her first season as an assistant coach with the Gators, Florida advanced to the WNIT quarterfinals. Last season, she was promoted to associate head coach and helped lead the Gators to the Southeastern Conference championship quarterfinals and the WBIT.

In addition to playing basketball and coaching at the same high school as NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson and Olympic gold medalist Francena McCorory, Augustin played tennis, ran track, and competed in AAU golf. Her basketball journey was shaped by the values of dedication, diligence and hard work instilled in her by her parents, Valada and Richmond Pope. Her brothers, Kai and Richard, played basketball, and her sister, Miko, was a cheerleader.

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It was her brothers’ relentless competition that truly transformed Augustin. They didn’t take it easy on her and forced her to constantly raise her game if she wanted to play with them, a challenge that she embraced and used to fuel her growth.

“One of my brothers wouldn’t let me play until I beat him,” Augustin said. “Being amongst quality talent in Virginia taught me how to compete. Hampton was a big part of me being introduced to other sports at a young age. It gave me a great foundation. My mother was a huge proponent of my participation in the National Youth Sports Program during the summer because it was free. I loved being around like-minded people who never let me cheat the game.”

Augustin is excited by the challenge. She replaces legendary coach David Six, who led Hampton to women’s national prominence. The winningest coach in school history, Six had Hampton teams that posted an overall record of 264-188, won five regular-season MEAC titles and six tournament crowns, and earned seven postseason invitations (six NCAA tournament berths and one WNIT appearance).

Portrait of Tamisha Augustin smiling and holding a basketball
Tamisha Augustin returns to Hampton after working under Kelly Finley at Florida. (Photo credit: Hampton Athletics)

Augustin remembers watching Six coach in high school while growing up in Hampton. She says she appreciates the past and the foundation that’s been laid, but Augustin is looking forward to leading Hampton to the top of the Coastal Athletic Association.

“The reality is for me if you’re not dreaming big and it doesn’t scare you, then it’s time to adjust your dreams,” Augustin said. “One of the first things I shared with my team is I am not coaching energy or effort. We know we have to put in the work and can’t skip steps. We will work hard, be blue-collar and be in the community.”

With a nearly two-decades-long coaching career, including roles at multiple universities and the NBA G League with the Grand Rapids Gold, Augustine brings a distinguished résumé and a broad perspective to her role.

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A two-time All-Southwestern Athletic Conference performer and four-year team captain at Alabama A&M, Augustin has served as an assistant coach and a recruiting coordinator at prestigious programs such as Arizona, Mississippi State, Florida, Minnesota and Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Throughout her career, Tamisha has earned the reputation as an innovative teacher of the game, an exceptional recruiter and evaluator of basketball talent, as well as being extraordinary in player development,” Hampton director of athletics Anthony D. Henderson Sr. said in Augustin’s hiring press release. “She has an excellent coaching pedigree and has been ultra-successful everywhere she’s been. She brings a passion for the game and, as a former player herself, understands what it takes for our student-athletes to be successful on the court and in life. I couldn’t be more excited for our young ladies to have the opportunity to develop under her leadership.”

Tamisha Augustin holds up a Hampton jersey and is flanked by Anthony Henderson and Darrell K. Williams
Tamisha Augustine (middle) is with director of athletics Anthony Henderson (left) and Hampton president Darrell K. Williams. (Photo credit: Hampton Athletics)

Augustin can relate to her team and Hampton due to her roots as an HBCU graduate. Fueled by the supportive academic environment at Alabama A&M, Augustin strengthened her resilience, showcased her grit and became more persistent in her pursuit of excellence. Those qualities helped her adjust to wherever she coached.

Throughout her coaching tenure, Augustin has been associated with success on the court. She has been part of teams that have reached the NCAA Tournament, including a memorable run with Arizona that saw the Wildcats advance to the championship game in 2021. A proven elite recruiter who helped sign three top-100 players and two top transfers during her two years in Arizona while laying the foundation for the sixth-best recruiting class in the nation, Augustin has a simplistic secret formula.

“Having great relationships,” Augustin said. “How you treat people matters. I believe in putting a lot of seeds into the ground by not wanting anything in return. I have had some great bosses, which has enabled me to take different things from each coach and merge them into my philosophies. I’ve always believed in being a relationship builder.”

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Additional coaching moves around the HBCU landscape include former WNBA legend Candace Dupree taking the helm at Tennessee State. Dupree, who enjoyed a 16-season professional career, takes over after two seasons with the Spurs. She ended her career as the fifth-leading scorer in WNBA history with 6,895 points, a total passed by DeWanna Bonner earlier this season.

In the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Maryland Eastern Shore named Malikah Willis its new head coach. A four-year letter winner at Iowa, Willis comes to UMES with more than 23 years of collegiate coaching experience, including stints at Kennesaw State (2022-24), Mississippi State (2021-22), Eastern Michigan (2020-21), Texas Tech (2019-20), College of Charleston (2017-19), Georgia Tech (2013-17), West Virginia (2009-13), Norfolk State (2007-09), Elizabeth City State (2004-07), Cheyney (2003-04), Chicago State (2002-03) and Illinois-Chicago (2001-02).

The SWAC had the most movement, as three programs will enter the 2024-25 season with new head coaches. Two of the three are no strangers to the conference, as they simply changed their addresses.

Margaret Richards took over at Jackson State after an eight-year stint at Alabama A&M. Dawn Thornton is the new coach at Alabama A&M after coaching at Arkansas–Pine Bluff. Meanwhile, UAPB named Louisiana Tech graduate Erica Leak as its head coach. Leak was drafted 19th by the Washington Mystics in 2005.

Written by Rob Knox

Rob Knox is an award-winning professional and a member of the Lincoln (Pa.) Athletics Hall of Fame. In addition to having work published in SLAM magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, and Diverse Issues In Higher Education, Knox enjoyed a distinguished career as an athletics communicator for Lincoln, Kutztown, Coppin State, Towson, and UNC Greensboro. He also worked at ESPN and for the Delaware County Daily Times. Recently, Knox was honored by CSC with the Mary Jo Haverbeck Trailblazer Award and the NCAA with its Champion of Diversity award. Named a HBCU Legend by SI.com, Knox is a graduate of Lincoln University and a past president of the College Sports Communicators, formerly CoSIDA.

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