Who’s the First?
Setting the Record Straight
John Thompson was one of those bigger than life characters in sports. He became the first African American head coach to win a major collegiate championship in basketball when he led the Hoyas to the NCAA Division I national championship in 1984. He was a voice for change in the fight against academic bias relating to Proposition 48 along with John Chaney, a Black college alumni and prominent D-I coach at Temple University.
However, when the announcement was made that coach Thompson was the first African American to win a national title, it struck a chord within the Black college community because although he was the first to win a major college title, he is preceded by a long list of African American college coaches who had risen to the same acclaim.
For those who do not know this heritage, here’s the list.