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Willie E. Jeffries
*Willie E. Jeffries was born on this date in 1937. He is a Black former American football player and coach. Jeffries grew up in South Carolina, attending the segregated Sims High School in Union County. He played football there and started coaching in 1960 as an assistant at Barr Street High School in Lancaster, South Carolina. His first head coaching job was in Gaffney, South Carolina, where he went 64–8–2 in seven seasons.
In 1973, Jeffries began his two stints with the South Carolina State Bulldogs football team (1973 to 1978 and 1989 to 2001). 1979, he coached for five seasons at Wichita State University and Howard University. Jeffries was the first Black head coach of an NCAA Division I-A football program at a predominantly white college. His accomplishments include three black college football national championships (1976, 1977, and 1994), seven Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championships, several post-season appearances, and numerous coaching awards. Players that Jeffries coached at South Carolina State include College Football Hall of Famers Harry Carson and Donnie Shell.
In 1988, Jeffries received the Order of the Palmetto. Jeffries was awarded the companion honor of the Order of the Silver Crescent in 2001. In 2009, Jeffries entered the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame. Jeffries entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010. The South Carolina State Board of Trustees voted to name the football field in Oliver C. Dawson Stadium after Jeffries. This honor occurred during halftime of the November 5, 2010, Howard at South Carolina State football game.
Jeffries has been a friend of Herman Boone, dating back to when the two were assistant coaches in North Carolina. Boone wrote a recommendation letter supporting Jeffries' induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. In it, Boone wrote, "Without his leadership and example, there would not have been Remember the Titans or the advancement in race relations in sports that we have witnessed."