NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Former Tennessee State Head Men's Basketball Coach Harold Hunter died yesterday at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn., at the age of 86.
Hunter is the second-winningest men’s basketball coach at Tennessee
State; his teams were 172-67 in nine seasons (1959-68). His first
Tennessee State team placed third at the NAIA National Championship, and
he sent 17 of his players from that school to the NBA.
"We are saddened to hear of the passing of Harold Hunter, Sr.", said Teresa Phillips, TSU Athletics Director. "He was among the best and brightest. Along side John McClendon, Coach Hunter was a part of a dominate era of men's basketball in this country. A great teacher, coach, mentor and man."
In 1968, Hunter coached the U.S. Olympic team during its tour of Europe and the Soviet Union and led the Americans to a victory against the Soviet national team in Minsk.
Hunter was from Kansas City, Kan., and was a stand-out guard from North Carolina College. Hunter led NCC to the title game of the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association National Tournament. In the tenth round of the 1950 NBA draft, Washington Capitols coach Horace McKinney selected Hunter to join Earl Lloyd on the club.
The next day, April 26, 1950, Hunter became the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract.
Additional honors of Hunter include induction into the CIAA Hall of Fame in 1987, retirement of his jersey by North Carolina Central in 2005, being named one of the top 100 sports legends at North Carolina Central during the university’s centennial in 2009, and a Sam Lacy Pioneer Award from the National Association of Black Journalists’ Sports Task Force at the NABJ’s 2012 convention in New Orleans.
Hunter was quoted extensively in “Black Magic,” a 2008 ESPN documentary about basketball pioneers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
-- TSU TIGERS --