A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Coleman, Hairston Among Honorees For MEAC’s Hall Of Fame Class of 2005
L TO R: Vince Coleman & Carl Hairston
GREENSBORO, N.C.— Commissioner Dennis E. Thomas announced the 2005 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame Inductees earlier this week. Vince Coleman, Carl Hairston, Diana Pitts, Larry Stewart, Coach Robert Johnson (posthumously) and MEAC Administrator Brenda H. McCoy make up the 2005 Class, as selected by the11-member Selection Committee, which represents each MEAC institution.
One of the most versatile athletes in Florida A&M University history, Coleman was a star centerfielder for the Rattlers baseball team from 1979 to 1982. Blessed with speed, quickness and great instincts, Coleman stole 109 bases, while hitting a career average of .352 for the Rattlers with 13 doubles, 15 triples, two homeruns and 65 runs batted in through 110 games played. In 1982, he set an NCAA single-game record for stolen bases with seven steals vs. Alabama State. Coleman was also a standout on the gridiron, where he was a two-time All-MEAC selection as a punter (1980-81), averaging 41.3 yards per kick in 1980 and 41.1 yards per kick in 1981. He also served as the Rattlers’ placekicker from 1978 to 1981. In 1979, Coleman kicked a 34-yard field goal with under four minutes to play to give the Rattlers a stunning victory over the University of Miami. Coleman went on to enjoy a successful career in Major League Baseball, drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, earning National League Rookie of the Year honors after stealing over 100 bases. His MLB career included stops with the New York Mets, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners and the Detroit Tigers. Coleman finished his career with nearly 900 stolen bases.
Hairston was a three-year starter at defensive end at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore from 1973 to 1975, where he amassed over 200 tackles in his career. Known as “Mr. Defense” around the UMES campus, Hairston was a three-time All-MEAC performer at UMES. In 1975, his final season at UMES, Hairston compiled 113 solo tackles and 56 assisted tackles through eight games, including two MEAC Defensive Lineman of the week honors. Hairston picked up his first weekly award after recording 20 solo tackles and nine assists against Johnson C. Smith. Four weeks later against Morgan State, he recorded 28 tackles, including 18 unassisted, two sacks and one interception. Selected to the UMES Hall of Fame in 1999, Hairston enjoyed a stellar 15-year professional career after leaving the UMES campus. A seventh round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles, Hairston he played eight seasons with Eagles (1976-83), six with Cleveland (1984-89) and one with Arizona (1990). Hairston finished his NFL career with 1,141 tackles and 94.0 sacks through 224 games.
Pitts enjoyed a success four-year career at Coppin State in Track and Field and Cross Country. One of the most successful track athletes in Coppin State history, Pitts earned All-American honors in the 800 meter run in 1993 and 1994, becoming Coppin’s first women’s track and field athlete to win such honors. Pitts won MEAC crowns in the 200m, 400m, 800m 1500m and 3000 meter run. In fact, her time of 2:11.96 in the 800 meters in the 1991 MEAC Indoor Championship remains the fastest time in that event. She also holds MEAC Outdoor Track and Field championship records in the 800 meters (2:08.56); and the 1500 meters (4:45.19). Pitts also led the Lady Eagles to three MEAC Cross Country Titles from 1991 to 1993, earning Outstanding Performer honors in 1992. Pitts was named Coppin State’s Female Athlete of the Year in 1992 and 1994. She currently holds school indoor records in the 500, 1000, 1500 and mile run, and outdoor records in the 400, 800, and 1500 meters.
A two-time All-MEAC Player of the Year and Coppin State Male Athlete of the Year (1990, 1991), Stewart set his mark on the Coppin State men’s basketball records books shortly after setting foot on the campus in Baltimore, Md. Stewart led the Eagles to two MEAC regular season basketball titles, one tournament title and a 39-9 MEAC record during his three-year career at Coppin State. Stewart is the Eagles all-time rebounder with 1,052 career rebounds, and is second all-time in scoring with 1,824 points. In 1990, Stewart led the Coppin State to its first NCAA tournament berth. The following season, he received the 1991 John B. McLendon Trophy as the top player at an Historically Black College and University (HBCU), after averaging 23.9 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, while leading the Eagles to an NIT berth. Stewart averaged 20.0 points and 11.6 rebounds in his career at Coppin State. Stewart left Coppin State after the 1991 season and in 1992 as member of the Washington Bullets, he became the first undrafted player to earn NBA All-Rookie honors. In 1994 Stewart’s jersey was retired, becoming the first and only Coppin State athlete to have his jersey retired.
Robert “Jet” Johnson
Johnson began his coaching career at South Carolina State in 1973 until 1991, serving as the school’s men and women’s Track and Field coach, and as an assistant coach on the Football staff. During his coaching tenure, Johnson became one of the most successful coaches in the history of the MEAC and S.C. State, as he amassed over 20 Coach of the Year honors and 24 conference championships. In track and field, Johnson won 10 MEAC men’s Outdoor Championships, six (6) women’s Outdoor Championships, and five (5) men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment came in 1982, when he guided his track team to the AIAW Division II national title. As an assistant football coach under Willie Jeffries, Johnson helped the Bulldogs to over 50 wins, five MEAC titles and five post-season appearances. Johnson was also an assistant under the late Bill Davis, who guided the Bulldogs to back-to-back Division I-AA playoff appearances in 1981 and 1982. A Benedict College graduate, Johnson was inducted into the Benedict Hall of Fame in 1989 and the South Carolina State Hall of Fame, posthumously in 1998.
Brenda H. McCoy
A veteran conference administrator, McCoy has been a major part of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s growth and success since 1974. Currently serving has Director of Championships, she enters her 30th year with the MEAC having held several positions within the conference including Assistant to the Commissioner and Senior Woman Administrator. McCoy also served as the interim Commissioner in 1996 and 2002, after the departures of former Commissioners Kenneth Free and Charles Harris. McCoy’s major area of focus is in the coordination of the MEAC’s annual sports championships, league meetings and special projects. It has been her untiring efforts, allegiance and persistency as a staunch believer that, “It can be done.” McCoy has served on several NCAA committees and committees within the conference structure. Along with innovative associates, she played an integral role in the birth of the Bicentennial Bowl (matching the CIAA and MEAC Football Champions), which is presently known as the Gold Bowl, the Freedom Bowl All-Star Classic and the Heritage Bowl. The Heritage Bowl was the first and only NCAA Division I-AA sanctioned post-season game.
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