Bill Hayes, a legendary football coach at N.C. A&T and Winston-Salem State, will be honored on ESPN during the network’s Home Depot College Football Award Show on Dec. 6.
Hayes, 75, who lives in Winston-Salem and retired four years ago after a stint as WSSU’s athletics director, will be recognized as a significant figure in the landscape of HBCU football.
The show will air live on ESPN at 7 p.m. from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
“When I first got the call about all of this I thought it was a prank,” Hayes said on Saturday.
“The guy at ESPN told me all about it and I was thrilled especially to hear that I’ll be honored along with four other coaches from HBCU’s.”
Hayes said that Willie Jeffries, the former coach at S.C. State, Marion Casem (Alcorn State), Archie Cooley, who coached Jerry Rice at Mississippi Valley State, and Rod Broadway, a former coach at N.C. Central and N.C. A&T, will also be honored.
Broadway retired from N.C. A&T last year after the Aggies went 12-0 and won an HBCU national championship. The national championship by Broadway last season was his fifth.
“Coach Broadway is the young buck out of all of us being honored but this is a big deal for us,” said Hayes, who is the all-time wins leader in A&T history and is second on the victory list at WSSU.
Hayes built both WSSU and N.C. A&T into powerhouse programs over three decades. His career record was 195-104-2 over his 27 years combined at the two schools.
After his coaching days came to an end in 2002 he jumped into administration as an athletics director at N.C. Central, his alma mater, Florida A&M and then a successful four-year run at WSSU.
During his four seasons as athletics director at WSSU he was a part of 14 CIAA titles and in 2012 the football team went 14-1 losing in the Division II national championship game to Valdosta State.
What Hayes is looking forward to the most about the recognition at the awards show is being able to highlight HBCU football.
“There were a lot of coaches even before us who paved the way,” Hayes said. “I’m just thrilled that on national television the five of us will be given a chance to talk about what HBCU’s can do for anybody and that includes outside the realm of football.”
In between playing a lot golf since his retirement, Hayes is also a regular at the Fulton YMCA, where he says he’ll be working out a little harder.
“I need to shed a few pounds,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to getting down there to Atlanta. There’s a banquet the night before and it will be great to see all these guys again. Coach Jeffries and I had some real good battles when he was S.C. State and I was at A&T but now we are good friends.”
Hayes, who is in just about every hall of fame there is, said this is another honor that came to him out of the blue.
“Like I said earlier I thought somebody was playing with me,” Hayes said.
“I had to check it out further to make sure.”