A McMinnville native, Jimmy Earle’s first collegiate basketball experience came as a player at Martin College. He became Martin’s leading scorer, averaging 17.7 points per game. Earle subsequently transferred and earned his degree from MTSU.
He coached high school one year at Algood and two years in Smithville before returning to Martin College as head basketball coach in 1961. It did not take long before Earle’s teams were winning Dixie Conference titles. His teams won in 1962, 1963, and 1965.
In fact, Earle’s 1964-1965 team finished eighth in the nation and earned him “Coach of the Year” honors in the Dixie Conference. After Martin, Earle went to MTSU as assistant coach and became head coach in 1969, leading the Raiders to 164 wins against 103 losses.
He guided MTSU to eight winning seasons, two Ohio Valley Conference championships, and two trips to the NCAA tournament. Twice Earle was named Ohio Valley Conference “Coach of the Year.” In 1979 he was named Distinguished Alumnus by the university and in 1980 was inducted into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame.
All his MTSU success notwithstanding, Jimmy Earle always remembered his junior college days and loyally supported the Tennessee Junior College Association baseball tournament and the organization’s annual meeting held on the MTSU campus.