Former South Carolina State coach Willie Jeffries will be recognized by ESPN for his contribution to the game of football.
He will be honored Thursday during the network's College Football Awards show at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The show will air live on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m.
Mark W. Wright, ESPN's director of special projects, 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 Metropolitan Convention Center.
A Union County native, Jeffries spent 29 years as a collegiate coach, 19 at S.C. State, his alma mater. During two tenures (1973-1978, 1989-2001) as Bulldogs head coach, he compiled a 128-77-4 record, which included six MEAC titles and as many postseason appearances. Overall, the S.C. 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 career, he earned numerous coaching honors and produced a number of players who went on to the NFL.
Jeffries retired from S.C. State after the 2001 season. He is a member of the SCSU Athletic Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame (2013), the Black College Football Hall of Fame (2011) the Kansas Hall of Fame (2011), the S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame, the MEAC Hall of Fame, the Wichita State Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.