Celebrating 125 Years of Black College Football

125 Day Countdown...

  • On December 27, 1892 the first black intercollegiate football contest occurred. Biddle University, now Johnson C. Smith University, played Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC on a snowy front lawn. The Golden Bulls earned their first historic victory 5-0 in what today is called the Commemorative Classic.

122 Days

  • Winston-Salem State University's Jed Bines and Martin Hicks are the only two running backs in CIAA history from the same team to rush for over 1,000 yards in the same season as Hicks (1,148 yds) and Bines (1,137 yds) combined for 2,285 rushing yards in 2005. 
    • Along with Winston-Salem State University, Virgnia State University had two running backs rush over 1,000 yards in the same season.  Treton Cannon 1,269 and Bellamy 1,171 for a total of 2,440 last year for the Trojans.

CIAA For Life

  • Morgan State was a member of the CIAA from 1929-1970.  They won a total of eleven championships over a 14-year period in the 1930's and 1940's.  
  • Lou Anderson, former Virginia State University head coach (1990-2001), revolutionized the football atmosphere at VSU. Coach Anderson captured two CIAA titles ('95, '96) and is a 2-time Coach of the Year ('93, '95). Though his love for the game willed him to mold and develop young athletes, he desired nothing more than to see his athletes achieve the ultimate goal in obtaining a college degree.

CIAA Made ... Professional Bound 

  • John Baker was a tremendous two-way performer for the Norfolk State University Spartans who gained All-CIAA status. Not only could he play offense and defense, but Baker could kick with the best.  In 1963, he became NSU's first-ever draft choice as the Green Bay Packers selected him as a defensive end. After a successful training camp and exhibition season, Baker was released by the Packers and went on to sign with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League (CFL) where he developed into one of the CFL's finest defensive players. 
  • Carlos Fields is an American football inside linebacker who played college football for Winston-Salem State University. After going unselected in the 2014 NFL Draft, Fields signed with the Oakland Raiders, but later waived. Fields went on to sign with other NFL teams throughout his career such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins (twice), Buffalo Bills, and the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers.  

Once Upon A Time in CIAA History ...

  • Hampton University was the first dominant football team in the CIAA, winning 9 of the first 17 titles awarded. After a dry spell that lasted more than 50 years, Hampton won four titles in its final 10 CIAA seasons before leaving to join the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
  • Ike Lassiter was an offensive and defensive end for the Saint Augustine's College Falcons from 1958-1961. Ike was a hardnosed performer, win or lose you knew Lassiter was always in the game. He was drafted in 1961 by the Los Angeles Rams, but also went on to play for the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders and finished his career with the New England Patriots.


  • Chowan University joined the CIAA in 2007 as the first non-Historically Black College/University, initially entering the conference to participate in only football. In 2008, the Hawks became a full member of the CIAA, adding all sports. In 2017 will celebrate the tenth season Chowan football will play in the CIAA.  
  • When Tom Caldwell took over at Elizabeth City State University as head coach, the institution had just entered the CIAA and needed leadership that would make them competitive with other power houses within the conference. His first major mark was bringing in the largest amount of quality players in the school's history ('61-'62), over 90% of players recruited that year graduated from ECSU. Two years after being selected Coach of the Year, Caldwell led the Vikings to their first and only CIAA Football Championship in 1971. 


  • The 2015 football season marked a change atop the pecking order in CIAA football as Bowie State University and Virginia Union University reached the NCAA playoffs. It was the first time the CIAA sent two teams to the postseason since 2011. 
  • Virginia State University Trojan Damon "Redd" Thompson was a 3-time First Team All-CIAA and HBCU All-American along with being an NCAA Division II First Team All-American (1998-2000). In 2000, Thompson's 262 career receptions broke the all-time Division II record. He finished his college career as the CIAA's all-time leading receiver.

80 Days

  • Pettis Norman (JCSU '62) is a 3-time All-CIAA receiver and a member of both the Johnson C. Smith University and CIAA Hall of Fame. Norman went on to play in the NFL, spending his first 9 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys playing in three NFL title games, as well as Super Bowl V.  Norman also played for the San Diego Chargers and was named co-captain in 1971.
  • Former Winston-Salem State University running back Jerrick "Jed" Bines finished his collegiate football career ranked third among WSSU running backs with 3,600 total yards for the Rams. He is also ranked sixth in school history with 35 total career touchdowns

Setting Records ... 

  • Norris Earl Francis (ECSU '64) was perhaps one of the best quarterbacks to come out of Virginia in the 1960s. His very first year with the Vikings ('60-'61), Norris broke the CIAA passing record with help from teammate Fletcher Snipes by throwing for nearly 900 yards in 8 games.
  • WSSU holds the NCAA Division II record for most blocked kicks in a season with 27 (16 punts, 7 field goals, 4 PATs) recorded during the 1986 season.


  • Leroy Kelly was one of the finest all around offensive backs ever to play in the CIAA.  Kelly earned 4 football letters at Morgan State University while making both the All-State and All-CIAA teams playing offense and defense for the Bears. Between 1963 – 1968, Kelly was drafted 8th to the Cleveland, led the NFL in punt returns, tied with Dallas' Dan Reeves with 16 touchdowns, and led the league with 1,239 yards and 20 touchdowns for 120 points.  Kelly's slashing inside running and tremendous "feel" for running the sweeps made him one of the most exciting runners of all time.
  • Edawn Coughman played college football at Shaw University (2008-2010). Coughman has played professionally (2011-present) for the Toronto Argonauts (CFL), Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, and most recently the Arizona Cardinals.  

CIAA History ... 

  • Lincoln (PA) University was one of the top HBCU's during the 1920s. Posting a winning record 8 times from 1920 to 1929. The 1924 squad cemented its legacy as arguably one of the best-ever squads to play college football, only giving up 3 points the entire season en route to a 7-1-1 record and a CIAA Championship.
  • In his sophomore year as a Saint Augustine's College Falcon, Herman Reid had his best year when he made 15 tackles, and slapped down two potential touchdown passes.  He was the Falcons' MVP his junior year and made All-CIAA at tackle his senior year. In 1967, Reid was drafted to the NFL's Baltimore Colts (now Indianapolis Colts), but after one year began teaching and coaching in the Virginia Beach area. 

CIAA: The Best of the Best ...

  • Andre Braxton of Virginia Union University holds a career football record for the Panthers with a total of 4,989 rushing yards during his football career (1997-2000)
  • Norfolk State University won three-straight CIAA Championships in the mid-70s ('74-'76) and another in 1984.

CIAA Football: Fighting for Titles...

  • NCCU won 5 titles from 1953 to 1963 as NC College for Negroes and then added 3 more as North Carolina Central before leaving the CIAA for the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) for the second time.

  • Blenda Gay was perhaps the most prominent defensive player the Fayetteville State University Broncos ever had. A strong competitor with great determination, Blenda was signed by the San Diego Chargers in 1974. Another CIAA Star, Leroy Jones (NSU), beat him out of the starting job and Blenda was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1975. He started for the Eagles until his untimely death in 1979.

CIAA: Dominating the Back Field

  • Winston-Salem State University hired Bill Hayes, a beloved former Rams football coach who compiled a record of 89-40-2 from 1976-1987, as it's athletic director in October 2009. In 2016, Hayes was named to the Black College football Hall of Fame.

  • Bill Dusenberry was All-CIAA at the half back for 2 yrs with the Golden Bulls of Johnson C. Smith University and was an excellent student. He set the record as Smith's leading scorer with 94 points in 1967 and scored 4 touchdowns against Livingstone, 4 versus Winston-Salem State, and 3 against Morris Brown- all in his sophomore year. Dusenberry gave the Golden Bulls a threat from anywhere on the field because of his great speed and good hands.


  • Chris Hubert a wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, played college football at Fayetteville State University. He was signed by the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2016. During his time as a Bronco, Hubert served as a standout receiver and finished the 2015 season with 71 catches for 862 yards and 13 touchdowns. He eclipsed the 2013 record of 70 catches and the 2008 record of 12 receiving touchdowns and earned All-CIAA Second Team honors.
  • Current Shaw University Head Coach Adrian Jones was a two-time First Team All-CIAA and Second Team All-South region honoree at North Carolina Central University. Jones led the conference in 1997 with an 11-yard punt return average and a 29.5-yard kickoff return average. Jones broke the school record when he returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown against FSU.


  • Dr. DeWayne Jeter was a four-year starting quarterback for Virginia State University beginning in 1957 and was considered a scholar-athlete. He led the Trojans in passing yards each season for a career total of 2,510 yards. His career passing yards and total offense (1958, 1,012) records upheld in Virginia State record books for 28 years. The 3-time All-CIAA quarterback led the Trojans team to a 7-2 and 6-3 season record as team captain his junior and senior years.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  • Former Winston-Salem State University Rams kick returner David Irizarry totaled 444 yards in kick returns during the 2008 season and averaged 22.2 yards per return. The 444 yards were the third most in school history. His 22.2 yards per return average placed him 10th.