When it comes to the legacy Robert Moreland has created, Texas Southern athletic director Kevin Granger says it best.

“You can’t say TSU Basketball without recognizing all the efforts of Coach Moreland,” said Granger, who starred for Moreland at TSU from 1992-96. “He brought that winning mentality to the program and consistently preached that hard work and dedication would pay off.”

Moreland’s message applied to his own career, and certainly to the Tigers program as both ascended to incredible heights during his initial tenure from 1975-2001.

The Utica, Mississippi native found his way to TSU as a result of a chance meeting with athletic director Rod Paige years earlier. And with Moreland came a Mississippi pipeline of players that elevated the program, starting with Alonzo Bradley and Marcello Singleton in 1975 and continuing with Granger nearly two decades later.

It wasn’t long before the Tigers would become something of a powerhouse with Moreland in charge, winning the NAIA National Championship in 1977 followed by SWAC Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances in 1990, 1994 and 1995.

Indeed, the man who became known as “Top Kat” had the Tigers rolling for much of his 27-year tenure. Moreland, who is now 84, guided TSU to six 20-win seasons, one 30-win season, five SWAC conference championships, two SWAC co-championships and three conference tournament championships.

Moreland and his aggressive brand of basketball produced three national scoring champions and All-Americans in Harry “Machine Gun” Kelly (twice) and Granger.

Players such as Ron Cavenall, Larry Williams, Bradley and Kelly all spent time in the NBA following their college careers under Moreland.

For his efforts, Moreland was a five-time SWAC Coach of the Year, American Wire Service 1994 National Coach of the Year and the American Wire Service National Black College Champion in 1994 and 1995.

Moreland, who would later serve as interim coach of the Tigers during the 2007-08 season, finished as the Tigers’ all-time leader in wins with 406 victories to his credit.

But not only was Moreland a great basketball coach, he was an even greater builder of great men.

Dr. Lacey Reynolds, who played for Moreland at Utica College and later coached under him at TSU, points to Granger and others as examples of the high-quality and successful men he produced.

“I just think Coach Moreland was a builder of men,” Reynolds said. “He never received the credit for the type of men he produced. Not only did he produce great basketball teams, but he produced great family men, great leaders in our community. He instilled in us the will to reach back.”

In 2007, Moreland was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame and TSU renamed its basketball court at H&PE Arena in Moreland’s honor.

“Coach Moreland was a leader, a father figure. He definitely knew the X’s and O’s and he was very strategic as a coach,” Reynolds said. “He was one who was very balanced as a good teacher and coach.”