PRESERVING HISTORY & LEGACIES
SPRINGTIME SPORTS 2021
Tradition Takes a Hard Turn
Springtime is supposed to play host to college basketball’s highlights and thrills, climaxing with elite tournament performances.
Outdoor sports like baseball and track and field bring fans outside where “the air of anticipation about upcoming athletes and championships is as reverent as watching new blooms piercing the crusty earth that houses the baseball diamonds and oval tracks of baseball and track and field.”
Ordinarily, that would be the case but 2021 is under covid-19 restrictions and everything has undergone a reset.
However, collegeiate sports are surviving.
Super Scout, Super Person
The Class of 2021 roll call is impressive: Charles WOODSON, Michigan; Drew PEARSON, Tulsa; Peyton MANNING, Tennessee; John LYNCH, Stanford; Calvin JOHNSON, Georgia Tech; Tom FLORES, Pacific; and Alan FANECA, Louisiana State. Perhaps none are more interesting than Bill NUNN, the “Super Scout” of his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers during their dynasty years of the 1970s. Highly respected, Bill Nunn was a true trailblazer.
West Virginia State College
Senior Scout, Assistant Director of Player Personnel Pittsburgh Steelers 1968-2014 (46 years)
Before William “Bill” G. Nunn, Jr. became a renowned sportswriter and super scout in the National Football League, he had already been a part of an amazing experience.
Nunn was a stand-out basketball player on a very talented West Virginia State team that went 26-0 in his senior season. He played alongside future NBA Hall of Famers Chuck Cooper and Earl Lloyd.
Nunn was recruited by the Harlem Globetrotters but decided to pursue a career in the newspaper business.
He joined his father, William Nunn, Sr. at the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the top Black newspapers in the country. He worked as a sportswriter and eventually took over the managing editor desk in the 1960s.
Nunn joined the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1967 as a part-time scout and was instrumental in building the Steelers’ dynasty of the 1970s. Some of his Black college draftees: JOHN STALLWORTH (Alabama A&M), MEL BLOUNT (Southern), DONNIE SHELL (South Carolina State), L.C. GREENWOOD (Arkansas AM&N), and ERNIE HOLMES (Texas Southern)…(three are in the Hall also). He had a knack for finding other small college talents like JACK LAMBERT at Kent State University.
Honors: Nunn is a member of the Inaugural Class of the Black College Football Hall of Fame. He was enshrined in the Steelers’ Hall of Honor in 2018.
Class of 2020
Harold CARMICHAEL, Wide Receiver, Southern University Winston HILL, Tackle, Texas Southern Donnie SHELL, Safety, South Carolina State
A CELEBRATION of BLACK COLLEGE HISTORY in SPORTS
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At Delaware State University’s 1985 homecoming football game, John Taylor, the Hornets star wide receiver/punt returner/kickoff returner put on a show to remember. It was just one of many performances which made him the third-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1986 NBA Draft, which was ranked by ESPN as the 25th Greatest NFL Draft Steal
of all time.
Taylor played for the 49ers from 1987 to 1995 and maybe best known for catching the winning 10-yard touchdown pass from Joe Montana during the final seconds of Super Bowl XXIII in 1989. See John
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY
1837 CHEYNEY STATE University founded by Richard Humphreys as the African Institute. It is the oldest HBCU.
1845 ATLANTA BAPTIST SEMINARY played the first game of organized baseball at a Black college.
1865 BOWIE STATE UNIVERSITY founded on January 9 and is Maryland’s oldest historically black university.
1887 CENTRAL STATE UNIVERSITY, OHIO founded as part of Wilberforce University.
1891 NORTH CAROLINA A&T UNIVERSITY founded as “The Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race.”
1909 FISK UNIVERSITY lost to Pearl High School in baseball.
1910 NORTH CAROLINA COLLEGE founded by James E. Shepard, its first president.
1922 FIRST CIAA TRACK & FIELD MEET held at Hampton Institute, who won the first three meets.
1940 NAIB (aka the NAIA) held their first national tournament in Kansas City, MO. Nineteen years later, Tennessee A&I was the first Black college to win the national basketball championship.
1941 (March 22) North CAROLINA COLLEGE for NEGROES (North Carolina Central University) played four games in one day during an end-of-season men’s basketball tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1943 THE “SECRET GAME” between North Carolina College (coached by John B. McLendon, Jr.) and Duke University. In the first interracial collegiate matchup played in the South, NCC overwhelmed the Blue Devils 88-44.
1957 TENNESSEE A&I UNIVERSITY won their first NAIA National Invitational Basketball Tournament. They would go on to win three consecutive championships (1957-58-59).