A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Former WSSU Standouts Pitching In To Raise Money
Banking on the fame of the pro careers of Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Timmy Newsome, Winston-Salem State is hoping to raise money for an endowed athletics scholarship.
“It starts with money,” said Newsome, a former Dallas Cowboys’ running back who spent nine seasons in the NFL. “When you move into the next level like they are doing, you need a lot more financial resources to be competitive. It doesn’t just start with basketball and football – you have women’s sports that need financing as well.”
A Celebration of Champions banquet will be held Nov. 2 on campus at 6 p.m. at the Anderson Center. It will celebrate the 40th anniversary of WSSU’s NCAA Division II basketball championship and the 30th anniversary of its 1977 and ’78 CIAA football titles.
The cost is $50 a ticket, and there are fewer than 200 tickets available.
Monroe was the star of the 1966-67 basketball team that went 31-1 and became the first historically-black college to win a national championship.
“We’re trying to raise a little bit of money so that maybe we can attract some of those athletes who might want to go elsewhere,” said Monroe, who lives in New York.
Monroe, who was named one of the top 50 NBA players of all-time, said that giving back to the university is something that the late Big House Gaines always stressed.
“Coach used to tell us all the time, even after we were long gone from school, that giving back is the right thing to do,” Monroe said.
“So when you think about Winston-Salem State competing in Division I, you have to get those top-notch players. I think this is an opportunity to try and give back and to get those kinds of players that can help this school.”
The ’77 and ’78 football teams, which were coached by Bill Hayes, were two of the best teams in school and CIAA history. They went 11-1 each season and were led by Newsome and fellow running backs Randy Bolton and Arrington Jones.
The quarterback was Kermit Blount, who ran the Veer offense to near perfection. Blount, who is in his 15th season as the football coach of his alma mater, said that recognizing past teams is important.
“This is huge,” Blount said, “because what it does is show our younger generation that nobody ever forgets what you do if you have done it in a positive way. I think this will shine a light on this football team and teams to come because we are honoring these championships.”
Newsome and Jones, who is the head football coach at Virginia Union and has his Panther team at 6-1 this season, were both drafted by the NFL coming out of WSSU in the late 1970s. Newsome had a nine-year career with the Cowboys and played fullback, tailback and even some at tight end.
Newsome, the second-leading rusher in school history with 3,843 yards, said that raising money for the athletics program means much more than it used to.
“It’s vitally important that we have individual giving to supplement everything else, because if you don’t you are going to put a mediocre product on the field,” Newsome said. “And that’s just unacceptable for Winston-Salem State’s athletics.”
Newsome, who lives in Dallas and is a former member of the board of trustees at WSSU, is grateful that the school is starting to recognize its athletics past more and more.
“Reaching back and going into yesteryear and bringing back players from that period is vitally important,” Newsome said. “It helps your giving, and you can’t expect former athletes to give unless you bring them back and show them your vision of where the athletic program is going. It’s like we are key stakeholders in the program, and we like coming back and seeing a winner.”
Newsome and Blount were asked who was the best back in the potent lineup of the ’77 and ’78 teams. Both tried hard to stay humble.
“My ego tells me that I was,” Newsome said. “But in all honestly, I thought Arrington Jones was a better back. He had better skills and better feet. I think in time I developed into a good runner, but he came to Winston-Salem State with a great pedigree.”
Said Blount with a laugh: “No, it was me.
“Each of those guys did something tremendously well. Timmy was a lot faster than people gave him credit for, and Randy probably ran harder than all of them. Arrington just made you miss, so they all had what it took for us to be successful.”
Newsome said: “I think clearly it was the best backfield in CIAA history. And the only reason Kermit didn’t play in the NFL was his size.”
Those Rams dominated their competition. In 1977, they went 11-0 but bypassed the Division II playoffs to play in the Gold Bowl in Richmond, Va. where they lost to S.C. State 10-7. The next season they went 11-0 again, won their first playoff game (17-0 over California State Poly) and then lost to Delaware 41-0 in the second round.