Tusculum to honor basketball greats with number retirement ceremony

Tusculum to honor basketball greats with number retirement ceremony

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Two Tusculum basketball legends will be honored with the retirement of their jersey numbers announced Doug Jones, vice president of student success and athletics. TC greats Ralph Horne '57 and Susan Starnes Brown '97 will be honored this Saturday (Jan. 27) when the Pioneers host Catawba for a South Atlantic Conference doubleheader at Pioneer Arena.

Horne's No. 32 and Brown's No. 42 will be retired following the conclusion of the 2017-18 season.  The Tusculum duo will be honored in ceremonies during halftime of the women's contest which will tip off at 2 p.m.

"This is an honor that has been long overdue.  Susan and Ralph are two of the greatest players that Tusculum has ever seen," said Jones. "They have been outstanding ambassadors to their alma mater and are so well deserving of this honor."

Horne, who graced the Tusculum hardwood from 1953-1957, scored a school record 2,487 points during his stellar career.  His teams compiled a 62-38 record, including an 18-7 campaign in 1955-56 where the Pioneers swept both the Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles.  He earned All-SMAC honors three times and was selected to the SMAC All-Tournament Team on three occasions as well.

The Kingsport, Tennessee native scored a then school-record 692 points in his senior campaign, which are tied for the third-most in Tusculum history today.  His point total that season ranked him 16th among all college scorers in the nation that year.  Some of the noteworthy players listed ahead of him that season were basketball hall of famers Lennie Rosenbluth (North Carolina), Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas) and Elgin Baylor (Seattle).

Horne scored 650 points during the Pioneers' SMAC championship run in 1955-56 while leading the conference with a Tusculum single-season record 27.7 points per game average.  He scored a career-high 45 points against Bluefield College in 1957 to break the previous school record.  It was one of five 40-point games for Horne, which are the most in program history.

Horne graduated from Tusculum in 1957 with a bachelor's degree in business administration.  Following graduation he earned a tryout with the NBA's Syracuse Nationals.  He worked for 22 years with the Magnavox Corporation before moving onto private business.

He returned to Tusculum where he served as an assistant on Coach Mike Hollowell's staff for 12 seasons with the Pioneers.

From 1993-1997, Starnes accounted for the greatest playing career in the history of Tusculum women's basketball.  The three-time All-American established numerous school records including 2,927 career points and 1,426 career rebounds.  Upon completion of her career, she was the NAIA's all-time leading scorer.

Her teams compiled an impressive 98-32 record (.754 winning percentage), won two Tennessee-Virginia Athletic Conference and NAIA District championships and advanced to the NAIA National Tournament on three occasions.  In 1995-96, she led her junior squad to a 30-5 record, the best season ever in Tusculum history.  She set Tusculum and NAIA school records with 793 points and 383 rebounds that year.

During her senior season, she averaged a school-record 25.9 points per game and was named the NAIA National Player of the Year. In that season, she established TC single-game record by scoring 47 points against Piedmont (Jan. 16, 1997), a mark which still stands today.

The Greeneville, Tennessee native was named the TVAC Player of the Year three times and earned NAIA National Player of the Week accolades on four occasions. 

Following her 1997 graduation with a degree in computer information systems, she stayed at Tusculum where she served as a graduate assistant coach for the women's basketball team during the 1997-98 campaign.  In 1999, she earned a graduate degree in Adult Education (MAeD) from Tusculum. She currently resides in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband Matt, also a 1997 TC graduate and a member of the football team. Susan currently serves as the Director of IT & Health Information Systems for Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinics.

Horne and Brown become the first Tusculum student-athletes to have their jersey numbers retired in school history for any sport.  Both were inducted to the Tusculum Sports Hall of Fame. Ralph was a charter member in 1981 while Susan was a 2002 inductee.