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2012’s Top HBCU Sports Stories

As 2012 winds down, HBCU Gameday is pleased to bring you the five biggest stories of the year. Some were good, some were bad, but all of them got people talking.

5. Hill-Eley’s got mail

Despite being accidentally forwarded an email stating he would be fired, Donald Hill-Eley is still Morgan State’s head coach. (Baltimore Sun photo)

There’s never a good way to find out you’ve lost a job, but being accidentally forwarded an email with information that you are being replaced has to sting. That’s what happened to Morgan State football coach Donald Hill-Eley shortly after his team finished 2012 with a disappointing 3-8 record. After Hill-Eley proceeded to complain to the Baltimore Sun about having enough resources to win, it appeared it was just a matter of time before this nine-year marriage came to an end. But as of today, Hill-Eley is still Morgan’s head football coach.

4. Joe Taylor’s abrupt retirement

FAMU’s Joe Taylor retired with two games remaining in the 2012 season. (RattlerNation photo)

By the time Florida A&M’s record sank to 3-5, the whispers had already started that Taylor wouldn’t be coming back to Tallahassee in 2013. But few figured that the 62 year-old Taylor would retire during the 2012 season. Taylor reportedly informed his team of this at a pre-game breakfast prior to a 16-3 loss to NC A&T in Greensboro. Taylor finished his career with a 223-96-4 record with stints at Howard, Virginia Union, and Hampton prior to coming to FAMU.

3. Savannah State’s shameful start

Savannah State lost its first two games by a combined score of 139-0. (Orlando Sentential photo)

The reality is, money games are a necessary evil for most HBCU basketball and football teams, especially in Division I. But Savannah State took it to another level this season, by scheduling two top-tier BCS opponents back-to-back after a one-win season. Oklahoma State and Florida State outscored SSU 139-0 in seven quarters.

2. Winston-Salem State’s brush with history

WSSU became just the second HBCU to play in the Division 2 National Championship Game. (Daily Dispatch photo)

In 2011, Winston-Salem State turned many heads when it won 13 games and fell just one game short of a national championship appearance. Despite the pressure that came with such success, WSSU actually had a better year in 2012. In just its third season back in Division II after a failed Division I attempt, WSSU went undefeated in the regular season for the second year in a row. The Rams put together another deep playoff run, making it all the way to the national championship game before losing to Valdosta State. Still, the Rams became the first HBCU football team to win 14 games in a season and just the second to play in the D2 national championship game.

1. Norfolk State goes dancing

NSU big man Kyle O’Quinn came up huge, helping the Spartans defeat the Missouri Tigers.

Fifteenth-seeded teams are not supposed to beat no. 2 seated teams in the NCAA tournament. Especially 15th-seeded teams who have never even played in an NCAA tournament game. But that’s exactly what happened with an unheralded Norfolk State squad upended Missouri in its backyard of Omaha, Nebraska. Propelled by Kyle O’Quinn’s 26 points and 14 rebounds, the Spartans defeated the Tigers 86-84, becoming just the fifth no. 15 seed to defeat a no. 2.



  1. Fresh Simmons

    January 1, 2013 at 12:58 am

    What about Shaw women's basketball team winning the NCAA Division II National Title?

  2. HBCU Gameday

    January 2, 2013 at 4:40 am

    Originally that was no. 5, but ultimately, this list was based off national attention. No disrespect, but most teams can't tell you who won the D2 men's championship, let alone the women's champion. Thanks for your comment!

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