South Carolina State Head Football Coach Emeritus Willie Jeffries will be recognized by ESPN for his contribution to the game of football Thursday, Dec. 6, during the Home Depot College Football Awards at the Chick Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The awards show will air live on ESPN, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
Mark W. Wright, Director of Special Projects and The Undefeated for ESPN, called Jeffries “a significant figure in the HBCU College football community who has helped to nurture not only football players, but also men.”
It is the second honor in as many weeks for Jeffries, who along with his wife Mary, was honored Nov. 19 as the retiring executive director of the Palmetto Capital City Classic during a gala at the Columbia (SC) Metropolitan Convention Center.
A Union County, SC native, Jeffries spent 29 years as a collegiate coach, 19 at SC State, his alma mater. During two tenures (1973-1978, 1989-200) as Bulldog head coach, he compiled a 128-77-4 record, which included six MEAC titles and as many postseason appearances. Overall, the SC State Hall of Famer, who also spent five years each at Wichita State and Howard, amassed a record of 179-132-6.
He made history in 1979 when he was hired as head coach at Wichita State, becoming the first African American to coach at a major university. During his enviable career, he earned numerous coaching honors, and also produced a number of players who has distinguished themselves in professional football and other professions as well. Under his tutelage, SC State was ranked among the leaders in the MEAC and HBCUs in graduating football players.
The Bulldog mentor, who retired from SC State after the 2001 campaign, is enshrined in numerous halls of fame. In addition to the SCSU Athletic Hall of Fame, Jeffries has also been inducted into – among others — the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame (2013), the Black College Football Hall of Fame (2011) the Kansas Hall of Fame (2011), the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, the MEAC Hall of Fame, the Wichita State Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.
Today, he is an often sought speaker for all occasions and is the longtime emcee of the Orangeburg Touchdown Club.