100 Moments: Davis Does it All
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
100 Moments: Davis Does it All

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by remembering one of the central figures in Tennessee State athletic history.

Walter S. Davis originally played football for the Tigers in the late 1920’s, helping the Tigers to several winning season.

However, Davis will not be remembered as a player.

Davis returned to his alma mater in 1933 and became head coach of the TSU football team until 1936. As coach, he led the Tigers to 17 wins, 7 losses and 4 tied games. This ranks him eighth at Tennessee State in total wins and fifth at Tennessee State in winning percentage (.700).

After President William J. Hale retired in 1943 after 30 years of service, Davis was selected as his successor becoming the second president. From 1943 until his retirement in 1968, President Davis led the institution through a period of tremendous growth and change. As a result of his efforts, the university increased its academic offerings, built new facilities and gained worldwide recognition.

During his tenure, Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College achieved university status in 1951 and the Tennessee Board of Education elevated the university to a full-fledged land-grant university in 1957. In 1958, the University was fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Davis committed to athletic excellence by hiring legendary coaches John A. Merritt, John McClendon and Edward “Ed” Temple, who produced internationally renowned athletes such as Wilma Rudolph, Ralph Boston, Wyomia Tyus, Edith McGuire Duvall and Chandra Cheeseborough.

In honor of his accomplishments, TSU built the Walter S. Davis Humanities Building in 1933. The building was renovated and enlarged in 1967 and 1997. The building houses the Department of Languages Literature and Philosophy, and the Center for Administrative Computer Services.

Under Davis' leadership, 24 new buildings were constructed on the campus and it was during his tenure that athletes from Tennessee State University commanded the attention of the nation and the world by winning national championships and titles in football, basketball and swimming, along with Olympic medals in track and field.

Davis retired in 168 and was inducted into the Tennessee State University’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.

Sports Information Assistant Cierra Joshua contributed to this article.

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