Philip Gyau has a long road ahead in rebuilding Howard’s men’s soccer program. But that doesn’t mean going to the beach is off-limits. He was there two days before he landed the job and he’ll go back if it can help the team.
“I used some of the training methods from beach soccer with youth teams all the time – and I had players who went on to become national team players,” he told Boxscore News during CONCACAF’s first-ever beach soccer coaching course, at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “It teaches you to control the ball in the air, to gain a close control … the technical skills are certainly very useful.”
Gray, 48, will use every tool at his disposal to lead the Bison back to the national prominence they once enjoyed. The heyday ended before he arrived on campus, but he’s well aware of the history – as is Howard’s interim president Wayne Frederick, team manager when the Bison advanced to the 1988 NCAA title game.
“It’s extremely important to rebuild the soccer team because we have a strong history of success,” Frederick said during Gyau’s introductory press conference. “My first impression of athletics here was one of excellence.”
Gyau was “saddened” to watch Howard drop so far, 1-17-0 last season and ranked dead last among Division I’s 203 teams. “This school game me everything,” he said. “I want to give back.”
By HOWARD MANN
Pep Hamilton has come a long way since playing quarterback for the Bison from 1993-1996.
He began his coaching career right away, starting at his alma mater, and enjoyed stints with the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears and Stanford University before landing his current position as offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts.
Hamilton was the keynote speaker during the inaugural Howard University Football Coaches’ Clinic earlier this month. He was joined by fellow former Bison Antoine Bethea (49ers saftey) Roy Anderson (Colts defensive backs coach) and Jimmie Johnson (former Vikings tight ends coach).
They all spoke of the importance of giving back to Howard, both in time, talent and treasure.
“As alums, we have to do a better job of reflecing on some of the things we had to overcome,” Hamilton said, “and do what we can to help that next generation of Howard grads not have those bumps in the road.”
This entry was posted in Bison alumni, coaches, football and tagged Antoine Bethea, Gary Flea Harrell, Howard coaches' clinic, Howard University football, Jimmie Johnson, Pep Hamilton, Roy Anderson. Bookmark the permalink.
ATLANTA – The 2014 HBCU Lacrosse National Tournament was held April 6 at Morehouse College. The four-game tournament was for this year’s bragging rights among the nation’s four Historically Black Colleges & Universities that field men’s club lacrosse programs.
In the championship match, Howard University rallied to defeat Morgan State University, 6-5. The Bison trailed, 4-2, at halftime but tightened their defense after the break. The second half featured rain and a field with scattered puddles full of pollen, which made for challenging, yet exciting, lacrosse.
The Bears fought hard and won most of the ground balls due to the Bison’s multiple passes that were missed or dropped. But Howard was relentless in its position defense and played with confidence in its offensive sets, producing four second-goals to dethrone the 2013 HBCU national champions.
The rivalries at B.T. Harvey Stadium was so thick and the competition so fierce, fans might have thought teams wouldn’t shake hands afterward. But the handshakes took place, as did the traditional photo featuring the teams that had just battled.
The tournament began with Howard taking on Morehouse. Hard hitting resulted in several game stoppages due to injury and a bench-clearing “almost brawl.” With high energy brewed from early-season trash talk and tempers flaring throughout the contest, offensive technical prowess was at a minimum, but the physicality of lacrosse was pushed to the limit.
There were several ties until Bison captain Chris Ard ripped a bounce shot with about 90 seconds remaining to give Howard a 7-6 victory.
In the other semifinal, Morgan State jumped to an early lead against Hampton University and cruised to a 12-4 win.
Hampton beat Morehouse in the third-place game, 8-6.
If Philip Gyau’s bloodlines are any indication, Howard’s men’s soccer team will receive a a program-saving transfusion.
His father was a member of Ghana’s 1964 Olympic team and played in NASL. Gyau has a son and daughter (Joseph and Mia) who are members of U.S. national program. Gyau himself starred at Howard in the ‘80s and went to earn six caps for the U.S. team and play for several pro teams before coaching with the U.S. beach team and a Bethesda youth program.
Soccer is the Gyau family business.
Who better to revive a once-proud soccer program that has almost flat-lined? The Bison finished 1-17 last season, the sixth and final losing campaign under Michael Lawrence, who was relieved of his duties in December.
Gyau arrived at Howard a decade after the Bison shocked college soccer by winning the national championship in 1971 and 1974. The NCAA stripped Howard of its 1971 title in a controversial ruling that many claim was fueled by racism, but it couldn’t tarnish the feat three years later.
“Winning the championship in 1974 brought some catharsis and sense of justice,” then-coach Lincoln Phillips told The New York Times last year. “We felt that our approach in developing scholar-athletes always followed the spirit of the N.C.A.A. even when we were the targets of some unfair and sometimes hostile situations. Our graduation rate was among the highest in the nation, and the players we recruited were very good and serious students.”
Shortly after Gyau graduated, Howard returned to prominence again, reaching the 1988 championship and advancing to the quarterfinals in 1989. But in the 24 seasons since then, the Bison have appeared in just one NCAA tournament (1997).
Howard seeks a return to glory under Gyau and there’s good reason to believe it can happen. Considering its potential to draw international players with unrivaled love and passion, Howard should be a perennial contender in soccer. And Gyau’s ability to develop young players should be a draw for homegrown talent, too.
The 2014 season will represent a rebirth on two levels: The men’s team is joining the Sun Belt Conference, which is sponsoring men’s soccer for the first time since 1995.
“We’re extremely proud to be a member of the Sun Belt Conference in the sport of men’s soccer,” Howard athletic director Louis “Skip” Perkins said. “This gives our soccer program the opportunity to compete in a conference tournament and ultimately a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.”
Having a conference home is nice, but picking the right coach is crucial.
For a program in critical condition, Gyau appears to be a great resuscitator.
By HOWARD MANN
Howard University athletics director Louis “Skip” Perkins was at work one day, minding his own business, when a Bison Express member stopped by. Perkins is hoping that many more visitors bring such good tidings to his office.
Shortly after the welcome interruption, $25,000 was added to the budget. Perkins, Bison Express chairman Bruce Williams and vice chairman Thomas Payne took a picture with “the check” on Feb. 1, as North Carolina Central visited Burr Gymnasium for men’s and women’s basketball games.
“This came from a tremendous donor who wants to remain anonymous and totally help the athletic department,” Perkins said. “It’s just someone who genuinely cares about the athletic program and wants to see us succeed. He knew we had some facility issues and things like that. We’re very grateful.”
Perkins said it marked the largest single donation from an individual during his tenure, which began in January 2011. Twenty-five grand is a lot of money, even with the acknowledgement that dollar amounts are relative.
At the Charter Day gala on March 8, the university announced a $4.9 million gift from the trust of Dr. Richard “Frank” Jones, who received his bachelor’s from Howard in 1919 and his M.D. in 1922. Another seven-figure donation came from Radio One CEO Alfred C. Liggins, who gave $4 million to the School of Communications in honor of his mother, Radio One chairwoman/founder and Howard alum Cathy Hughes.
Those gifts were the lion’s share of more than $10 million raised as Howard celebrated its 147th anniversary. But Perkins doesn’t want folks to focus on the number of zeroes on a check.
“It doesn’t matter if someone is writing a check for $250, $100 or $2,500 dollars,” he said. “Every bit counts. As athletic departments, we all operate at a deficit. Only 11 schools in the country don’t. We have so many different needs – from facilities and scholarships to books and equipment. It all helps and it all counts. We appreciate anyone who reaches out to help us.”
The challenges facing HBCUs, in general, and Howard, in particular, have received a lot of attention over the last several months. Alumni giving – or lack thereof – comes up often in such discussions. “I Love Howard,” a grassroots effort, began recently with the modest goal of raising $20,000 for the university’s endowment.
Perkins said the instinct to give has to be instilled before students become alumni.
“We have to train our young people once they come to HBCUs as freshmen,” he said. “They have to know we’re going to need their support once they walk out these doors in four or five years. We have to educate them and help them understand how important it is.
“The best part is they can give anywhere because we need help in all areas. Whether it’s an academic major, athletics, the library – there’s no donation we can’t accept. It can be in-kind, cash, estate, will, whatever. We just can’t wait until they graduate and they’re gone 10 years and ask them to write a check. We have to find ways to keep them connected and embrace them at all times.”
The mysterious Bison Express donor insisted on remaining anonymous and Perkins assured him that would be the case. The gift wasn’t earmarked. Perkins said it probably will go toward the athletics department’s academic center and weight room, “which we’d like to have done before the end of this fiscal year.”
Whatever the goal, Perkins’ department was $25,000 closer after his special visitor that day.
Washington’s Doug Williams threw for four touchdown and a Super Bowl-record 340 yards when he led his team past John Elway’s Denver Broncos. Wilson’s numbers were much more modest Sunday night – two touchdowns and 340 yards – in leading his team past Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos.
Williams is part of HBCU football royalty, a former Grambling State star who played for legendary coach Eddie Robinson. Wilson played his college ball at North Carolina State and Wisconsin.
But he has strong ties to HBCUs beneath the surface.
Wilson’s grandfather Harrison B. Wilson graduated from Kentucky State, was a highly-successful basketball coach at Jackson State and later became president of Norfolk State. Russell’s grandmother Dr. Lucy Wilson graduated from South Carolina State.
A great-great grandmother, Elizabeth “Bettie” Price Ayers, graduated from Wilberforce University in 1901. An aunt, April Woodard, is a professor at Hampton University.
His connection to the past wasn’t lost after the game.
“It’s something I think about, to be the second African-American to win the Super Bowl,” he said. “That’s history right there, man. It’s something special and it’s real.”
Wilson’s father died of complications from diabetes in 2010. But the belief he instilled in his son lives on, which helps explain how a 5-foot-11 quarterback can win the Super Bowl in his second NFL season.
“He always used to tap me and say, ‘Russ, why not you? Why not us.’”
That’s the question, indeed.
Whether we’re products of HBCUs, PWCUs or no CUs…
Why not us?
There’s no denying that African Americans have come a long way since the days of Jim Crow. There’s also no doubt that integration helped lead to the gradual weakening of once-burgeoning black businesses and institutions.
Take HBCU football, for instance. The game used to be the main attraction, with talents such as Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State), Bob Hayes (FAMU), Walter Payton (Jackson State), Willie Lanier (Morgan State), etc. But nowadays, the vast majority of NFL-caliber prospects go elsewhere for college ball, leaving HBCUs better known for bands and halftime rather than stars and highlights.
“The HBCU halftime is part of the culture, and I love the bands,” Tennessee State’s Kadeem Edwards told Aljazeera America. “It fills me with pride. But, man, the football is more important to me. I don’t want the people to leave the game before the third quarter. Stay and watch us.”
Edwards was the only HBCU player selected for the 2014 Senior Bowl. He believes that HBCU football “is slowly dying” with diminishing crowds and fewer impactful recruits. South Carolina State safety Christian Thompson was the only HBCU player drafted in 2012 and only two HBCU players were drafted last year; as recently as 1996, 17 were drafted.
Former Arizona Cardinals star Aeneas Williams, who played at Southern, said mid-major schools and up-and-coming FBS schools have dented the influx as much as traditional powerhouses such as Alabama, Texas, Florida State, etc. He said HBCUs need to do a better job of marketing and promoting their legacy (while also upgrading their facilities).
“We need to be blowing the horns for our players who have the skill set to play at the next level,” he said. “Football can be the eyes for people to see into your university.”
Clearly, there’s no going back to the glory days, but there’s no reason HBCU football can’t be a quality product.
A number of players will continue to transfer from FCS schools, for a variety of reasons. And while former Tennessee State cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – who will line up for Denver in the Super Bowl – is the only first-round draft pick in the NFL, other HBCU players have reached the league via the undrafted free agent route.
It’s understandable that Edwards is frustrated by fans who barely pay attention during the game and leave after halftime. But continuing to compete is the best way to change that behavior.
Complaining isn’t the answer.
Howard alum David Oliver is more than just an Olympic hurdler and 2013 world champion. He’s also a man who understands the importance of helping the generation behind him.
That’s why he hosted the David Oliver Classic, an elite high school invitational meet held last weekend in Winston-Salem, N.C. About 100 schools and more than 1,000 athletes were expected to participate in a competition that may better than some of them will face in their respective state meets.
Unlike most prep indoor meets, which are split into classifications, there was no such split at Oliver’s meet.
Oliver was on-onsite to interact with athletes and coaches because he wants to help the sport grow, particularly at the youth level. Even as he moves forward in his career, he’s looking back to help those coming up.
“I just think back to when I first started competing at 17, not really knowing what to do with the sport,” he said in a video interview afterward. “… Now I can come in and talk to these kids and coaches. You never know who you might touch.”
The overwhelming majority of student-athletes at Howard and other HBCUs – just like the preponderance of their peers at predominantly white colleges and universities – will never cash a single paycheck for playing sports.
That’s why it’s vitally important to offer them a quality education and encourage them to take their academics as seriously as their athletics. They just might end up in a state legislature and broadcast booth, like former Howard quarterback Jay Walker.
Or they could work their way through the business side of sports. They could go from law school to a sports agency to an NFL team to NFL headquarters, before being picked to run a FBS athletic program.
Like former Stanford athlete Ray Anderson.
Currently completing his eighth season as the NFL’s executive vice president of football operation, Anderson will start his new gig – Arizona State’s vice president for athletics – after the Super Bowl. He joins a very short list.
According to the most recent report from The Insitute for Diversity & Ethics in Sport, of the 120 athletic directors at FBS schools, only nine were African-American as October 2012.
Unlike the others, Anderson doesn’t have any prior experience as an administrator at the collegiate level. But Arizona State president Michael Crow had a ready explanation for the hire during Anderson’s introductory press conference on Jan. 9.
“I have no doubt Ray can be a significant contributor to whatever we need to do to advance whatever resouces we need to move Sun Devil athletics forward,” Crow said. “Here we have a person that has demonstrated that he can learn, adapt, solve problems and move forward in any circumstances he encounters.”
That could be a motto for our Howard students, athletes and non-athletes alike:
“Learn, adapt, solve and advance – regardless.”
Booze and college is often a touchy subject, considering our society’s problems with underage drinking, drunk driving, date rape, etc. But that sensitivity hasn’t stopped the University of Louisville from engaging in a creative fundraising project with a … um … “spirited” corporate partner.
The Cardinal Athletic Fund and Maker’s Mark Distillery are teaming up to raise $1 million toward the creation of an academic center for Louisville’s athletes. The company’s famous Kentucky bourbon is being packaged in a limited edition, “Year of the Cardinal” bottle.
Not available in stores, the 500 specially-designed bottles commemorate Louisville’s historic 2013 – a Sugar Bowl victory in football, College World Series appearance in baseball, national runner-up finish in women’s basketball and national championship in men’s basketball.
The one-of-a-kind bottle is available to Cardinal donors for $2,000, with all proceeds earmarked for the $14 million Academic Center. Once completed, the state-of-the-art facility will house tutor rooms, learning labs and group study areas.
Maker’s Mark and Louisville have a contract for three bottle in three years, but the “Year of the Cardinal” bottle doesn’t count against that total. Previous bottles featured the image of football coach Charlie Strong (who just left for Texas) and men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino.
Bourbon and Kentucky go hand-in-hand, so maybe the partnership was a natural. But what product screams “Washington, D.C.!” and perhaps could be used by Howard athletics in a fundraising capacity? Where’s the local corporate partner willing to be the Bison’s Maker’s Mark?
The search is on…