TSU deeply saddened by the loss of legendary football coach Joe Gilliam, Sr.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
TSU deeply saddened by the loss of legendary football coach Joe Gilliam, Sr.

Nashville, Tenn. --- The Tennessee State University family is saddened by the passing of legendary coach, hall of famer and mentor Joe Gilliam, Sr.

"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."

From 1963-1981, Gilliam was the assistant head football coach and defensive coordinator for Tennessee State University. During this period, TSU had nine Black National Championships, and four undefeated teams. As an assistant coach under John A. Merritt, Gilliam helped create one of the best defenses in the country, including NFL Hall of Famer Richard Dent and former Dallas Cowboy Ed 'Too Tall' Jones.

In 1989, he took the helm as head coach for four seasons and was selected as Coach of the Year in the Ohio Valley Conference in 1990. Over 80 TSU student-athletes reached the NFL during Gilliam's tutelage.

Not only was Coach Gilliam a success on the field, approximately 74 percent of his student-athletes graduated from Tennessee State. The men have professions in the business, education and in the medical field to just name a few.

His illustrious career record of 254-93-15 included coaching five undefeated teams and five other teams that lost only one game. In the process, he coached 10 teams to national championships, and helped guide 144 players into professional football careers with the National Football League.

During the 25 years that Gilliam was at Tennessee State, the Tigers had a 164-31-6 record.

He is father of former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joe Gilliam, and the grandfather of R&B singer Joi.

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

In August 2011, coach Gilliam served as Richard Dent's presenter at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony.

This past May, former Tennessee State University football athletes honored coach Gilliam in a Roast Gala. The fundraiser supported the Joe Gilliam Sr. Scholarship fund. 

Visitation will be at 11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 19 at Temple Church with the service to follow at noon.