Winfrey "Wimp" Sanderson (born August 8 1937 in Florence, Alabama) is a retired college basketball coach. Sanderson coached at the University of Alabama from 1981 to 1992 and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from 1994 to 1999.
Sanderson prepared at Coffee High School and graduated from the University of North Alabama in 1959. In 1960 he became a graduate assistant under C. M. Newton at the University of Alabama, and in 1961 he was made a full time assistant. He served in this capacity for 20 years until 1981 when he was named Alabama's head basketball coach. In ten years as head coach his teams averaged 21.8 wins a year, with a 267-119 record, and they won 4 SEC tournaments. They played in one NIT and eight NCAA tournaments making the "Sweet 16" five times. He is only coach in Alabama history to win 200 or more games in his first 10 years. He was the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 1987, 1989 and 1990, and was the National Coach of the Year in 1987.
Sanderson currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama.
Sanderson was infamous for wearing plaid sport jackets on the sidelines.
His dad, who worked for an auto parts company, died when he was 6, and Sanderson, an only child, shared an apartment with his mom, Christine, a secretary for the Veterans Administration. Wimp was more of an athlete than a student, more Mr. Popular than either. His senior year in high school, he beat the would-be valedictorian to become class president.
In 1955, Sanderson went to Abilene Christian College to play basketball. He planned to go into radio and television, but flunking Spanish soured his plans. He transferred home to Florence State (now the University of North Alabama) and continued his hoops career while graduating in physical education. He took a high school head coaching job and one year later, in 1959-60, he went to Alabama as a graduate assistant under Hayden Riley for $75 a month. Sanderson figured it was a stepping stone for a better high school job.
When he was hired as Alabama's head coach for the 1981 season, many frowned. Alabama didn't really care about basketball, or else it would have hired a big-name coach, not a cantankerous assistant. "When he was hired, Wimp felt a tremendous amount of pressure," his wife, Annette says. "He had his doubters. People wondered,`Why did they ever hire Wimp?'"
"I have a lot of respect for C.M. and Wimp," says Hudson, the first African-American athlete at Alabama and now the assistant AD at Alabama. "I would talk to a lot of guys who came in the league at the same time as I did, who didn't have as easy of a time as I did. There were no special rules. Everyone was treated equally."
Sanderson's skills as a recruiter were legend. Enticing Robert Horry, Derrick McKey and Latrell Sprewell to football-mad Tuscaloosa was unprecedented. In addition to Sprewell, Horry and McKey, eight other players recruited when Sanderson was head coach made it to the NBA, including James Robinson and David Benoit.
Watts said that on that day, two days before Alabama was to play Stanford in the NCAA Tournament, Sanderson punched her in the face, giving her a black eye, during an argument. Sanderson said Watts had become hysterical and that, in an effort to defend himself, he stuck out his hand. She collided with it, giving her a black eye. More than a year later. Watts' lawsuit against Sanderson, the university and then-athletic director Cecil (Hootie) Ingram, was settled out of court, days before it was scheduled to go to trial. Alabama and Sanderson's homeowner's insurance policy paid Watts $275,000. Sanderson's 32-year relationship with Alabama, in which he had been a graduate assistant, assistant coach or head coach for more than half of the basketball games the school had ever played, was over.
"It was a situation where if you're accused of anything, you're guilty, and that's not right. I know what happened," Sanderson says, almost whispering. "I gave the university 32 years, all I could give them. Tried to do everything the right way. It was a sad day in my life. I loved the school, but it's behind me. It's over."
David Hobbs, a former assistant was promoted as as head coach when Sanderson resigned.