Terry Compton, Vanderbilt Basketball Legend, Dies at 67 After Battling COVID-19

Terry Compton, former Vanderbilt University basketball player who earned the nickname "The Long Rifle," died on Sunday night after battling COVID-19, according to USA Today. He was 67 years old. His brother, Billy Compton, reacted to the news on Facebook.

"Yes Covid19 is real friends. COVID-19 doesn't discriminate by age," Billy Compton wrote, while also mourning their mother, who also died of COVID-19. "After spending 3 hours by my brothers beside tonight and 5 hours at my Mom's beside last Tuesday night covered in PPE protective gear I could only have imagined the never ending stress, compassion and potential dangerous situation our health care workers are faced with along with the ongoing attempts to save your loved ones life."

Compton was named to the All-SEC team two times and led the Commodores to a 59-19 record in three seasons (1972-74). He was also able to lead the team to the NCAA Tournament berth his senior year. Compton was Vanderbilt's leading scorer for three consecutive seasons averaging 16.6 points per game. He finished with 1,326 career points and did this without a 3-point shot. In a 2008 interview with vucommodroes.com, Compton talked about possibly playing for the University of Kentucky.

"I grew up a Kentucky fan. I had a dream of playing for Kentucky, but when it got to the point of signing me, it came down between me and another player," Compton said. "Adolph Rupp offered me the scholarship contingent on what another player did. Well that eliminated Kentucky. I wanted to go to an engineering school. I wanted to play in the SEC. So going through the process of elimination, it came down to Vanderbilt. Ron Bargatze (assistant coach) was recruiting me for Vanderbilt and they wanted me. It was close to home and a good fit."


Compton's success at Vanderbilt led to him being selected in the fourth round of the NBA Draft by Kansas City-Omaha (currently known as the Sacramento Kings). He wasn't able to participate in training camp as he injured his hand while working a summer job. Instead of pursuing an NBA career, Compton started working at an engineering consulting firm in Nashville. He was also a softball coach, leading two of the top teams in the area - Jim Fisher Electric and the Nashville Classics.