Willie E. Jeffries became the first Black man hired as a head coach for a NCAA Division I-A football program, when Wichita State University (WSU) selected him to lead the Shockers in 1979. Jeffries served as the University’s head coach for five seasons (‘79 through ’83), posting his best season in 1982 when the Shockers posted an 8W-3L record, finishing 2nd in the Missouri Valley Conference. Unfortunately, during his tenure at WSU, the NCAA cited Jeffries and his team for numerous rules infractions to include recruitment violations by the coaching staff that ultimately led the program to be placed on probation in ’83 and ’84. Three years after Jeffries was fired, Wichita State University President Warren Armstrong announced the termination of school’s football program at the end of the 1986 season.
Before his stint at Wichita State, Jeffries was a head coach at historically black college/university (HBCU) South Carolina State University (’73 to ’78). After leaving Wichita State, Jeffries went on to become head coach at HBCU Howard University from ’84 to ’88. In 1989, Jeffries returned to South Carolina State where he finished his head coaching career in 2001.
Willie E. Jeffries was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010, after a distinguished 29-year-long career as a college head coach that saw him become the first Black head football coach at a NCAA Division IA program and to also win three Black College Football National Championships at South Carolina State (’76, ’77 and ’94).
The Sports Highlights USA list of Black Head Football Coaches at NCAA Division I-A Schools is dedicated to Willie E Jeffries and to all the Black pioneers that came before him, and to all those that dare to lead the way into the future.
List of Black Head Coaches at NCAA Division IA FBS Schools
|James Franklin||Penn State||Big Ten|
|Paul Haynes III||Kent State||Mid-American|
|Mike Jinks||Bowing Green||Mid-American|
|Scottie Montgomery||East Carolina||American Athletic|
|David Shaw||Stanford||PAC 12|
|Lovie Smith||Illinois||Big Ten|
|Charlie Strong||USF||American Athletic|
|Kevin Sumlin||Texas A&M||Southeastern|
|Willie Taggart||Oregon||PAC 12|
|Everett Withers||Texas State||Sun Belt|