PRESERVING HISTORY & LEGACIES
Track (and Field) is Alive and Well
MEAC WOMEN'S 50th ANNIVERSARY TEAM BASKETBALL
South Carolina State
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference was founded in 1970 and began competing in football in 1971. A year later, the first men’s basketball tournament was held. The women first hit the tournament court in 1978, the same year the MEAC selected its first full-time commissioner, Kenneth A. Free, who served as Commissioner until 1995. South Carolina State won the first two tournaments. Dr. Dennis Thomas has been the commissioner since 2002. The 50th Anniversary team is an impressive lineup of players who left their mark on women’s basketball in the MEAC. See the 50th Anniversary Team
A CELEBRATION of BLACK COLLEGE HISTORY in SPORTS
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY
[Enlarge video for full view]
A Bulldog Legend
Mar. 31, 1936 - Nov. 17, 2004
Willie Simon put together a remarkable 14-year career at S.C. State SCSU as its all-time winningest women’s basketball coach. A standout athlete at then-Lake View High School in West Columbia, Simon went on to attend Allen University in his hometown of Columbia. In his spare time, Simon played sandlot baseball for The West Columbia Braves.
His first coaching job was at Lexington Rosenwald High School from 1956-1968 where he coached football, boy’s and girl’s basketball.
Despite adequate resources and equipment, in 11 years Simon’s teams won seven state and nine Football Conference championships while posting a 99-15-4 record.
He coached baseball for one season at Allen University (his alma mater from 1968 -1969) before becoming the head baseball coach at South Carolina State College.
He led the Bulldogs to the Southeastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference baseball championships between 1969-73 and sent Gene Richards and Willie Mays Aikens to Major League Baseball.
Simon was an assistant to Bulldogs legendary football coach Willie Jeffries
and a part of three MEAC championships and one black college national championship.
Simon girls’ basketball teams won four district championships and the boys’ teams nine district championships and a state championship.
Simon’s Lady Bulldogs team won the AIAW National Championship in 1978-79 in a thrilling 73-68 win over Dayton. From 1974-1988, Simon won 121 games (his first four seasons and retired with 305 wins and 93 losses in 18 seasons. He also served as track and volleyball coach from 1979-82.
Simon is a member of the SC State Athletic Hall of Fame, the Allen University Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Lakeview and Lexington Rosenwald Commemorative Calendars by Historic Schools Legacy Foundation.
KENTUCKY STATE UNIVERSITY was chartered as the State Normal School for Colored Persons, only the second state-supported institution of higher learning in Kentucky.
(Jan. 22) BETTYE MCCLENDON became the FIRST FEMALE to officiate a Men’s Basketball Game…other firsts: FIRST FEMALE STARTER (Track & Field)…FIRST FEMALE to call an NCAA Div. II Women’s Basketball Tournament Game.
JACKSON STATE Lady Tigers made their first appearance in the AIAW National Tournament. They defeated Minnesota 68-65 in the first round but lost to Louisiana Tech, 97-50 in the second round.
SHAW UNIVERSITY Lady Bears captured their first NCAA Div. II national women’s basketball title.
JEAN PATTON became the first of the famed TENNESSEE STATE TIGERBELLES to become a World Record holder. She was a two-time 100 M champion in 1949 – 50; the 200 M champion in 1951; and in the 1951 Pan Am Games, Patton won a gold medal in the 200M and 4x100M relay. She added a silver medal in the 100M Sprints.
CHEYNEY STATE Lady Wolves future Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer led the Lady Wolves to their first-ever appearance in the AIAW National Tournament. They lost to Kansas, 75-66 in the first round.
HAMPTON UNIVERSITY led by All-American guards Jackie Dolberry and Vernice Frazer won their first NCAA Div. II women’s basketball championship after a 33-1 record. They were coached by Hall of Famer James Sweat.
Sharpe, Driver Among the NFL All-Time Top 7th Round Picks
The 2021 National Football League draft had its usual drama and for most teams, they were able to pluck a prospect that could potentially fill a need. The chatter involved one of the seventh-round picks which triggered someone to pull up the history of the best of that round down through the years. Black college players are among a very impressive number from the late rounds who end up being all-pro and hall of famers. Among this group are HBCU alumni Shannon Sharpe (#2) Savannah State, and Donald Driver (#80) Alcorn State.
The best seventh-round NFL Draft picks of all-time
1 Larry Wilson, S, St. Louis Cardinals, 1960
2 Bo Jackson, RB, Oakland Raiders, 1987
3 Shannon Sharpe, TE, Denver Broncos 1990
4 Jim Ringo, C, Green Bay Packers, 1953
5 Joe Schmidt, LB, Detroit Lions, 1953
6 Donald Driver, WR, Green Bay Packers, 1999
7 Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints, 2006
8 Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots, 2009
9 Gary Anderson, PK, Buffalo Bills, 1982
10 Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, St. Louis Rams, 2005