NASHVILLE (TSU Sports Information) – The Tennessee State University family is saddened by the passing of legendary coach, hall of famer and mentor Joe Gilliam, Sr.
“The passing of Coach Joe Gilliam has cast a sadness across the Tiger nation this evening,” said TSU Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips. “A great teacher, a genius coach, a developer of men, he will be missed but never forgotten in the hearts and souls of all who bleed blue.”
From 1963-1981, Gilliam was the assistant head football coach and defensive coordinator for Tennessee State University. During this period, TSU had nine Black National Championships, and four undefeated teams. As an assistant coach under John A. Merritt, Gilliam helped create one of the best defenses in the country, including NFL Hall of Famer Richard Dent and former Dallas Cowboy Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones.
In 1989, he took the helm as head coach for four seasons and was selected as Coach of the Year in the Ohio Valley Conference in 1990. Over 80 TSU student-athletes reached the NFL during Gilliam’s tutelage.
“The University lost a legend today and we are deeply saddened by this loss,” said TSU President Portia Shields. “He was a legend both on and off the field inspiring hundreds of lives that he touched. He contributed greatly to the University’s athletic traditions, in particular the Tiger football program. In his coaching career, he shaped and molded such football greats as Hall of Famer Richard Dent and Ed ‘Too-Tall’ Jones. As the father of ‘Jefferson Street’ Joe Gilliam Jr., one of the first African –American pro footfall quarterbacks, the Gilliam name has been imprinted on both collegiate and professional levels.”
Not only was Coach Gilliam a success on the field, approximately 74 percent of his student-athletes graduated from Tennessee State. The men have professions in the business, education and in the medical field to just name a few.
His illustrious career record of 254-93-15 included coaching five undefeated teams and five other teams that lost only one game. In the process, he coached 10 teams to national championships, and helped guide 144 players into professional football careers with the National Football League. During the 25 years that Gilliam was at Tennessee State, the Tigers had a 164-31-6 record.
He is father of former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joe Gilliam, and the grandfather of R&B singer Joi.
Gilliam was inducted into the TSU Sports Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Tennessee Sports Hall Of Fame in 2007.
In August 2011, coach Gilliam served as Richard Dent’s presenter at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony.
This past May, former Tennessee State University football athletes honored coach Gilliam in a Roast Gala. The fundraiser supported the Joe Gilliam Sr. Scholarship fund.
Funeral services will take place Monday, Nov. 19 at The Temple Church, 3810 Kings Lane, Nashville, Tenn. Visitation begins at 11 a.m. with services at noon.
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About Tennessee State University
With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top Universities in the county by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912 Tennessee State University celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu
TSU Quick Facts
Motto: Think, Work, Serve Established: June 19, 1912 Type: Public, HBCU Endowment: $41.7 million Chancellor: John Morgan President: Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover Faculty: 431 Enrollment: 8775 Location: Nashville, Tennessee, United States Campus: Urban, 500 acres (2 km²) Former names: Tennessee A&I State Normal School for Negroes (1912); Tennessee A&I State Normal College (1925); Tennessee A&I State University (1951); Tennessee State University (1968) Colors: Reflex Blue and White Nickname: Tigers Athletics: National Collegiate Athletic Association Affiliations: Ohio Valley Conference Web site: www.tnstate.edu Phone: 615-963-5000
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