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Inside Hotlanta and The SIAC
August 4, 2007

Lamar

by Hal Lamar
Onnidan Online Columnist

Name Pioneer Bowl Champ Trophy for Wallace Jackson!

On November 11,2006, the world of HBCU sports lost one of its most ardent and devoted servants, Wallace Jackson. The native Atlantan and accomplished journalist was the first full-time commissioner of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) after successful stints as sports information director at both Albany State and Alabama A&M.

Jackson

Jackson had several successes as Commissioner but none more significant than the creation of the Pioneer Bowl. Many an afternoon, Jackson and this writer talked about such a project at the conference’s Peachtree Street office (or over fried chicken and early June peas and ‘tater salad at Paschal’s restaurant). We laughed about all the post-season ideas that came and went and whether or not the NCAA would sanction another offering. But ole Wallace had an idea for that. He pitched the idea to the NCAA decision-makers not so much as a black college but as an NCAA Division II post –season offing. His lobbying efforts and connections within the NCAA got the measure through. It is now one of only two Division II post-season outings (the game almost went bust until the SIAC council of presidents stepped in and insisted it continue).

It just seems to me that the Pioneer Bowl owes something to its principle creator. Currently, there is little evidence I can see that Jackson had anything at all to do with the contest. The very least William Lide and the conference can do to preserve Jackson’s legacy is to the name the Pioneer Bowl championship trophy the Wallace Jackson award. That would be a fitting and lasting tribute.

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Speaking of conference treasures, one of its shining jewels is Morehouse College track and field coach Willie Hill. Although I’ve known Brother Willie since former Morehouse head football coach Maurice “Mo” Hunt brought him here to Atlanta from Central State (Ohio) as his defense coordinator in 1979, it took others to truly open my eyes to this coaching genius.

Hill

Hill’s modesty and devotion to his craft and family left little room for back-patting and chest beating but he’s quietly become a living legend in his 27 year stint at Morehouse and 18 years as lord and master over Morehouse’s track program.

Hill’s record of accomplishments in the last 18 years have many Morehouse sports pundits comparing him to the championship-winning ways of the college’s legendary coach-professor Bertram Towns (B.T.) Harvey. It’s a legitimate comparison. Both men were recruited to the campus (Harvey is a Colgate U grad) and both came with mandates to either build or help build athletic programs. They both achieved their mandates.

In 13 years (he remained at the college 42 years), Harvey led Morehouse to 17 championships in baseball, basketball and football. Hill in 18 years has brought the center-cut bacon home to the “House” 23 times in track and field, cross country and football. His latest accomplishment was at the 2007 NCAA Division II outdoor track and field championships, where his cinder-men finished third out of 99 teams. Bare in mind that Morehouse had 9 athletes to qualify in contrast to eventual champ Abilene Christian‘s 19.

Hill has been applauded by his peers by being named NCAA South Region coach of the year the last two years. But its not enough, not near enough. His records of achievement, the number of celebrated athletes who passed his way and benefited from his methodical, patient and meticulous development qualifies him for more exalted status (like the NCAA Hall of Fame). At the 2007 kickoff football luncheon last month, Commissioner Lide talked about reviving the SIAC Hall of Fame (when did it die?). When it does, Willie Hill should be inducted by unanimous consent.

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AROUND THE SOUTH: Former Morehouse Assistant basketball coach Donald Dollar is now sharing his years of hoop expertise with the State University of West Georgia as an assistant…

CAU’s grid opener for 2007 will be against West Georgia which is moving its program from Division II to Division 1AA….

Former coach and educator Stan Pritchett of Atlanta has reportedly been named the new President of Morris Brown College…

Speaking of appointments, former Morris Brown assistant grid coach William Head is now directing the athletic program at Fisk University. Head comes to Fisk from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff……

A little bird is telling me HBCU coaches looking for a good back for the future should focus their eyes now toward Northside-Warner Robins Georgia. I’m told they got a back that is the absolute truth….

Got an item or comment?
Contact Hal at hrldlamar@yahoo.com

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