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).