Legendary TSU Football Coach Joe Gilliam Sr. Dead At 89 - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Legendary TSU Football Coach Joe Gilliam Sr. Dead At 89

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy: Tennessee State Athletics Courtesy: Tennessee State Athletics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Legendary TSU football coach Joe Gilliam Sr. has passed away, according to officials from the university.

The 89-year-old died Wednesday and was a resident of Trevecca Nursing Home in Nashville.

He was an assistant to Tennessee State coach John Merritt beginning in 1963 and was defensive coordinator into the 1980s. He became head coach in 1989 and stayed for four seasons, compiling a 20-23 record.

He led the team to four undefeated seasons and seven Black College National Titles. Gilliam was honored as Coach of the Year in 1990.

Gilliam was inducted into the Tennessee State Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

"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."

Gilliam was also an inspiration to his student-athletes, as 74 percent of the students who played for him graduated from Tennessee State. Students say they remembered his ability to lead his players in the right direction on and off the field.  

"A man of his nature and his stature expired young men not only football players but good human beings," said former TSU student  Kwame Lillard.

NewsChannel 5's former sports director, Hope Hines, got to spend time with the legendary coach before he died, moments he said he won't forget.

"I had the privilege of seeing Coach Gilliam in the nursing home at Trevecca about a month ago, and it was just he and I for about 30 minutes, and I'll tell you it was just one of the most special moments in my life," said Hines. "We didn't talk about football, we just talked about life."  

Gilliam's picture hangs on Harper Restaurant's wall of fame. Owner Paul Harper said the legendary coach was a regular at his business.

"I always feel honored and even the customers were honored to have him in our midst," said Harper.   

He was also the father of former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joe Gilliam, known as "Jefferson Street Joe".

Funeral arrangements have been set for Monday at Temple Church on Kings Lane in Nashville. Visitation will begin at 11:00 a.m. and the service will begin at noon.

(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)

Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.