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Former XU coach Harold Hunter, 86, dies in Tennessee

March 7, 2013

     NEW ORLEANS — Harold Hunter, the coach of Xavier University of Louisiana men's basketball teams during the mid-1970s, died at 6:55 a.m. Thursday (March 7, 2013) at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn. He was 86 years old.
     Hunter was 29-29 as coach of the Gold Rush but achieved greater fame outside of Xavier. He was the first African-American to sign an NBA contract — April 26, 1950, with the Washington Capitols, who drafted him in the 10th round — and the first African-American to coach a U.S. Olympic basketball team. Hunter never played in the NBA regular season, however; the Capitols cut him during their training camp.
     Hunter succeeded Bob Hopkins as coach of the Gold Rush in May 1974. Hunter's first two teams finished 11-9 in 1974-75 and 12-15 in 1975-76. Bernard Griffith, an assistant on Hunter's staff, replaced Hunter as head coach after the Gold Rush won six of its first 11 games in 1976-77.
     Among the teams Xavier defeated during Hunter's tenure were Arkansas-Little Rock, Florida A&M, Morehouse, Sam Houston State, Southern, Stephen F. Austin and Tuskegee. Hunter's first XU team won its first seven games and defeated Daniel Payne and Tougaloo to win the championship of the Azalea Classic at Mobile, Ala., in December 1974.
     "He liked his teams to shoot every four seconds," said Griffith, now the men's coach at Xavier's longtime city rival, Dillard. "He believed we were supposed to be shooting the ball. He never met a shot he didn't like."
     The Gold Rush were 11-0 when scoring 100 or more points during Hunter's tenure.
     Although his time at XU was brief, Hunter's program demonstrated benevolence. His players painted the interior of Xavier's St. Michael's residence hall during the summer of 1975. His second Gold Rush team played an exhibition against former XU players on Nov. 8, 1975 — a charity game which benefitted the Big Brothers of Greater New Orleans.
     Hunter is the second-winningest men's basketball coach at Tennessee State; his teams were 172-67 in nine seasons (1959-68). His first Tennessee State team placed third at the NAIA National Championship, and he sent 17 of his players from that school to the NBA.
     In 1968, Hunter coached the U.S. Olympic team during its tour of Europe and the Soviet Union and led the Americans to a victory against the Soviet national team in Minsk.
     After Xavier, Hunter remained in New Orleans and continued coaching. He was an assistant on Mary Teamer's Dillard women's team which finished third at the 1984 NAIA National Championship, and he coached SUNO's women from 1986-91. Hunter and his wife moved from New Orleans to Tennessee after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
     Hunter played for North Carolina Central from 1946-50 — his coach was John McLendon, who is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame and
     Harold Hunter

Harold Hunter
April 30, 1926-March 7, 2013


Back in the Day . . .
Harold Hunter's
Introductory
News Conference
at Xavier in 1974


On Expectations:
"I know I'm stepping into a lion's den, but I have never been a loser before, and I don't anticipate being one now."

On Winning:
"Defense is where you win or lose, and we will stress that phase of the game. It's not something you enjoy as much as shooting, but it's what must be done to win basketball games."

On Recruiting:
"I'd hope Xavier's program is attractive enough to interest good white athletes just as black athletes are attracted to and recruited by predominantly white schools."
the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame — and was the most outstanding player of the 1950 CIAA Tournament, which the Eagles won.
     Additional honors of Hunter include induction into the CIAA Hall of Fame in 1987, retirement of his jersey by North Carolina Central in 2005, being named one of the top 100 sports legends at North Carolina Central during the university's centennial in 2009, and a Sam Lacy Pioneer Award from the National Association of Black Journalists' Sports Task Force at the NABJ's 2012 convention in New Orleans.
     Hunter was quoted extensively in "Black Magic," a 2008 ESPN documentary about basketball pioneers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
     Hunter was born April 30, 1926, in Kansas City, Kan., and graduated from Sumner High School. Survivors include his wife, Jacqueline T. Hunter, who was a member of XU's biology faculty; a son, Harold Jr.; and a daughter, Micki. Funeral arrangements are pending but are expected to be held March 16 in Tennessee, Harold Hunter Jr. said.


 

 
Gulf Coast Athletic Conference

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
The Xavier Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets compete in Division I of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) as a member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Xavier fields men's teams in basketball, cross country, tennis and track and field and women's teams in basketball, cross country, tennis, track and field and volleyball.

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