Gale Sayers Inducted Into John McLendon Minority Administrators Hall Of Fame
June 19, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. — Former University of Kansas football great Gale Sayers was inducted into the John McLendon Minority Athletics Administrators Hall of Fame Friday night. The ceremony took place at the Athletics Directors national convention in Orlando, Fla.
Current KU Athletics Director Lew Perkins presented Sayers’ award on behalf of the John McLendon Foundation. The Hall of Fame recognizes the dedication of longtime minority athletics administrators in working toward the advancement of minorities in the field of athletics administration, while achieving the highest level of excellence in their own career.
McLendon, a KU graduate, was the first African-American man to study under James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball and KU’s first basketball coach. McLendon went on to become an accomplished coach, leading Tennessee A&I State University to three straight NAIA championships. In 1966 Cleveland State University made him the first African-American head basketball coach at a predominantly white institution. He also coached on the U.S. Olympic Team basketball staff in 1968 and 1972.
Sayers was a two-time All-America selection for Kansas in 1963 and 1964. He rushed for 2,675 yards and produced 3,917 all-purpose yards during his Jayhawk career. He led KU in rushing, touchdowns and kickoff returns in each of his three years in the lineup.
Sayers then put up NFL Hall-of-Fame numbers with the Chicago Bears, who made him their number one pick in the 1965 NFL Draft. He scored a rookie-record 22 touchdowns, just one of seven records he either tied or broke in his career.
After his great NFL career was cut short by injury, he embarked on another career – athletics administration. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Kansas, and served at KU as assistant athletics director. In 1976 he was selected athletics director at Southern Illinois University, becoming the first African-American A.D. in Division I.
In 1984 he left college athletics administration to launch a computer business. Sayers has built that business into a world-class provider of technology products and services. He is currently working on opening the Gale Sayers Center, an after-school program for eight-to-12-year-olds, which will provide extensive computer and public-speaking programs.
Others inducted Friday night included Alvin Attles, currently in his 49th year with the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association; Anita DeFrantz, the fifth woman to hold a seat on the International Olympic Committee; Dr. Bernard Franklin, former president of Virginia University and currently a senior administrator at the NCAA; Willie O’Ree, director of youth development of the National Hockey League/USA Hockey Diversity Task Force and the first black player in the NHL; Gene Washington, the recently retired director of football operations for the NFL, and Bob Watson, Major League Baseball’s vice-president of on-field operations.
Former University of Georgia football coach and athletics director Vince Dooley received the Bud Selig Mentoring Award, given annually to an athletics administrator who has been at the forefront of creating opportunities for young minorities seeking to enter the field of athletics administration.