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Bell Tower Ball Awards Honorary Alumni Award

Paul Scarpa and Dave Ellison '72

When it comes to winning, Charleston, South Carolina native Paul Scarpa has a gift. He became Furman University’s men’s tennis coach in 1967 and remained at the helm for 45 seasons, during which he became the winningest NCAA Division I tennis coach in America and longest tenured head coach in any sport in Furman and Southern Conference history. He led his Furman teams to 853 victories, 17 Southern Conference championships, and 14 league tournament championships. He was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year nine times, and his seven hall of fame honors include induction to the Blue Gray Tennis Hall of Fame, USTA Southern Tennis Hall of Fame, USTA Collegiate Hall of Fame, South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame, Southern Conference Hall of Fame, and Furman’s own Athletic Hall of Fame, for which he is the only active coach to be accorded that distinction. For his lifetime of achievements, Scarpa was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the state of South Carolina’s highest civilian honor.

It is no understatement to say that Scarpa has dedicated his entire professional life to Furman and the countless number of students he impacted. In addition to tennis, he served the University as head men’s soccer coach for 14 years, and he also had a brief stint as assistant men’s basketball coach. He is best known for developing his players, bringing out the best in them both on the court and off. His former players have gone on to achieve career success not only in athletics, but also as physicians, attorneys, teachers, ministers, and businessmen. He is a tireless ambassador for the University, recruiting students and spreading the word about Furman wherever he goes.

Scarpa’s legacy for the greater national and international tennis communities includes the development of the dual match scoring system—the “Scarpa System”—adopted by the NCAA in 1993. He also invented and patented Tenex tape used to mark clay tennis courts throughout the world. Scarpa is a graduate of Florida State University, where he was a top singles and doubles player for the Seminoles.

He and his wife Sandy have two children and four grandchildren.

The Honorary Alumni Award commends individuals who are not graduates of Furman University but who have made significant contributions to its welfare, reputation, prestige, and pursuit of excellence. Recipients become honorary members of the Furman University Alumni Association.

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