The list of accomplishments for Bill Hayes is long and distinguished and now he’s being recognized again with his upcoming induction into the Black College Football Hall of Fame.
The Class of 2018 was announced this week and Hayes joins as a coach along with seven other prominent players, including Harold Carmichael (Southern), Raymond Chester (Morgan State), Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson (Langston), Leo “Lincoln Locomotive” Lewis (Lincoln), Greg Lloyd (Fort Valley State) and Everson Walls (Grambling State).
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Hayes said. “It’s nice to be in the Hall of Fame with all these greats of college football. It is a tremendous honor.”
Hayes, 74, grew up in Durham and played four years at N.C. Central in the early 1960s. He later made his mark as a coach and collegiate administrator.
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Hayes was the head coach at Winston-Salem State from 1976-87 and at North Carolina A&T from 1988-2003. His coaching record was 195-104-2. Hayes had the distinction of being the winningest coach at both football programs when he left. He’s still on top at North Carolina A&T (106) and second at WSSU (89).
“When you consider that being a kid from the wrong side of the tracks in Durham, North Carolina, and probably one who no one would thought would make it, it is a great honor to be affiliated with those great institutions,” Hayes said
Hayes got into coaching in 1973 at Wake Forest, becoming the first African-American football coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was there two seasons before moving on to Winston-Salem State, which Hayes said was a turnaround project.
“When I went to Winston-Salem, it was a dead-end street,” Hayes said. “They hadn’t won many games in years. I took over an 0-10 team in the mid-’70s and quickly took that team to the top. That was quite a lot of fun and a big, big challenge. We overcame and did a lot of good things and produced a lot of outstanding athletes.”
His tenure at North Carolina A&T was also fruitful.
Hayes won three Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) titles and made two NCAA Division II playoff appearances (1978, 1987) at WSSU. From there he moved across the Triad to Division I-AA North Carolina A&T. He led the Aggies to three Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) titles and made two playoff appearances (1992, 1999). The Aggies also appeared in the now defunct Heritage Bowl in 1991.
“That program was on a downward spiral when I go there and after a couple of years we were right back in championship mode,” Hayes said. “I was at A&T for 15 years and we turned out some outstanding talent, some pro football players. We won some championships and did some good things.”
After wrapping up his coaching career, Hayes returned to Durham to become N.C. Central’s athletics director. He laid the groundwork for NCCU to make the transition from NCAA Division II to Division I. He was at NCCU from 2003-07 before moving on to Florida A&M to spend two years in Tallahassee, Florida. His final stop as an AD brought him back to Winston-Salem State where he worked 2010-14 before retiring.
Hayes said he’s enjoying retirement and it has allowed him to keep in better touch with family in Durham as well as keeping a close watch over the rivalry between NCCU and North Carolina A&T.
“I didn’t know what to do with myself the first couple of years,” Hayes said. “I kept waiting for somebody to call on me to do some coaching or some advising but things have changed so much. I had to find a new way. I had to start a new life and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
Hayes will come together with other members of the hall of fame class in December when they’ll be recognized at the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, which is the de facto national championship game for historically black college and university football teams. The induction ceremony will occur Feb. 10, 2018 in Atlanta.