ABOUT TSU

• Founded in 1912.
Located in the heart of Nashville, Tenn. near the State capitol.
The diverse student population of more than 8,000 represents 46 states and 45 countries.
TSU has been listed in the U.S. News & World Report “Guide to America’s Best Colleges.”
Tennessee State University is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational land-grant university offering 45 bachelor degrees and 24 master’s degrees. Doctoral programs include biological sciences, psychology, public administration, computer information systems engineering, administration and supervision, and curriculum and instruction.
Tennessee State University is among the few historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with a chapter of Phi Eta Sigma, the oldest and largest freshman honor society in the United States and a Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the most prestigious honor society comprising all academic disciplines.
Complementing the main campus is a newly renovated downtown campus that features a simulated stock-trading center, a student computer laboratory and continuing education, distance learning and multimedia services.

 

TSU HALL OF FAME

TSU Hall of Fame

HOF LIST: ALPHABETICAL | BY YEAR

 

JOHN MERRITT CLASSIC

Established in 1999, the John Merritt Classic pays homage to one of the greatest coaches in Tennessee State and college football history, John Ayers Merritt.
 
If ever there was a touch of greatness in a football coach, John Merritt possessed it. Thus when Tennessee State University officials were trying to identify a name for an annual classic to be played at the former Adelphia Coliseum, the John Merritt Classic was a natural.
 
The highly motivated and truly successful coach dominated and revolutionized the game of football during his career.
 
In 1963, TSU hired Merritt to become the school’s 14th football head coach. He coached the Tigers for 20 years and amassed over 170 wins for TSU.
 
Over the course of his career, Merritt continued to enhance the university’s rich football tradition- completing four undefeated seasons, winning six national championships and four black college football titles. Along with an excellent staff of assistant coaches, including Joe Gilliam Sr. and Alvin Coleman who had accompanied Merritt to TSU from Jackson State in 1963, he implemented a wide open pro-type “T” offense with multiple sets.
 
In 1967, Merritt’s team achieved a national defensive record for allowing opponents a paltry average of 2.15 yards per carry and a year later he was named Coach of the Year. Merritt’s team received the Associated Press and the United Press International small college championships in 1975, and by 1979 he had a record of 130-25-5. Merritt modestly downplayed his role in the team’s success and attributed the team’s winning record to “the Good Lord.”
 
The more games Merritt won and the more players he sent to the National Football League, the more attention Tennessee and Tennessee State University gained nationally. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter called to congratulate Merritt for his 200th victory.
 
The city of Nashville named John A. Merritt Boulevard (old Centennial Boulevard between Twenty-eighth and Forty-fourth Avenues) in his honor in 1982. By then, Merritt was in failing health. From 1963 until 1983, when he resigned, Merritt compiled a record of 172-33-7 at TSU and 232-65-11 overall. He was inducted posthumously into the National College Football Hall of Fame on December 6, 1994.
 
During his career, Merritt built a powerful program that produced NFL stars like “Jefferson Street” Joe Gilliam (Pittsburgh Steelers), Richard Dent (Chicago Bears), Ed “Too Tall” Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Claude Humphrey (Philadelphia Eagles) and many others.
 
 

JOHN MERRITT CLASSIC ATTENDANCE/RESULTS (13-6)

YEAR 
ATTENDANCE 
OPPONENT 
RESULT
SCORE
1999  
31,119  
Alabama State  
W
41-8
2000 
20,463 
Alabama State 
W
39-13
2001 
22,000 
Alabama State 
W
27-6
2002 
18,652  
Prairie View A&M  
W
41-8
2003 
18,124 
South Carolina State  
W
37-20
2004
25,117 
Alabama A&M  
W
42-7
2005 
25,342 
Alabama A&M 
L
14-27
2006 
19,487 
Alabama A&M A&M
L
20-27
2007 
23,440 
Alabama A&M 
L
23-49
2008 
28,830 
Southern  
W
34-32
2009 
23,871 
Alabama A&M 
L
7-24
2010 
22,607 
Alabama A&M  
W
27-14
2011 
25,209 
Southern   
W
33-7
2012 
15,652 
Florida A&M  
W
17-14
2013 
16,108 
Bethune Cookman 
L
9-12
2014 
10,541 
Edward Waters  
W
58-6
2015 
22,500 
Alabama State  
W
24-14
2016 
15,078 
Arkansas Pine Bluff 
W
44-0
2017
11,013
Eastern Illinois
L
16-19

JOHN MERRITT CLASSIC HONOREES

1999 – Merritt Family
2000 – John Merritt’s Assistant Coaches
            Joe Gilliam, Sr and Alvin Coleman, Sr
2001 – Carrie Gentry and former Majorettes
2002 – Sam Whitmon
2003 – TSU Original Boosters
2004 – 1966 Undefeated Team
2005 – 1970 Undefeated Team
2006 – 50th anniversary Championship Football, Basketball & Women’s Track
2007 – 1973 Undefeated Team “HBCU Football Champions”
2008 – 1998 & 1999 OVC Champions Team
2009 – 1982 Undefeated Team “HBCU Football Champions”
2010 – 1965 Undefeated Team “HBCU FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS”
2011 – Dr. James Hefner
2012 – All the John Merritt Teams, Coaches, and staff
2013 – Richard Dent
2014 – Edward L. Prof’ Graves
2015 – Ed “Too Tall” Jones
2016 – Undefeated 1956 National Championship Football Team
2017 – No JMC Honoree for 2017 classic
 

TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY DIVISION I CHAMPIONSHIPS

WOMEN’S TRACK AND FIELD (9)
Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Championships (5) - 2002, 2003, 2008, 2014, 2016
Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships (4) 2001, 2002, 2008, 2015

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL (5)
Ohio Valley Conference Regular Season Championships (2) - 1994 1995
Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championships (3) – 1994, 1995, 2015

MEN’S BASKETBALL (4)
Ohio Valley Conference Regular Season Titles (2)  -  1993, 1995
Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Titles (2) -  1993, 1994

VOLLEYBALL (2)
Ohio Valley Conference Regular Season Titles (1) - 2005
Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Champions (1) - 2007

 


 


 

FOOTBALL (2)
Ohio Valley Conference Championships (2) - 1998, 1999