TSU mourns loss of former coach Joe Gilliam, Sr. - WKRN News 2

TSU mourns loss of former coach Joe Gilliam, Sr.

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Photo courtesy of TSU Photo courtesy of TSU
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Officials from Tennessee State University announced on Wednesday night that former football coach Joe Gilliam Sr. passed away.

"The passing of Coach Joe Gilliam has cast a sadness across the Tiger nation this evening," said TSU Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips. "A great teacher, a genius coach, a developer of men, he will be missed but never forgotten in the hearts and souls of all who bleed blue."

Gilliam served as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for TSU from 1963 to 1981.

During the 18-year time period, TSU had nine Black National Championships, as well as four undefeated teams.

As an assistant coach under John A. Merritt, Gilliam helped create one of the best defenses in the country, including NFL Hall of Famer Richard Dent and former Dallas Cowboy Ed 'Too Tall' Jones.

In 1989, Gilliam took the helm as head coach for four seasons and was selected as Coach of the Year in the Ohio Valley Conference in 1990.

Over 80 TSU student-athletes reached the NFL during Gilliam's tutelage.

Gilliam is father of former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joe Gilliam and the grandfather of R&B singer Joi.

Gilliam was inducted into the TSU Sports Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Tennessee Sports Hall Of Fame in 2007.

In August 2011, coach Gilliam served as Richard Dent's presenter at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony.

Funeral arrangements for Gilliam were not immediately known.

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