Hunter, First Black To Sign NBA Contract, Passes

Former North Carolina College (now NCCU) guard Harold Hunter passed away Thursday morning.

When superstar NBA athletes sign big-time contracts these days, they are following a path blazed by a man most of them probably have never heard of. Former North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central) guard Harold Hunter, was the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract and the first African-American to coach the U.S. Olympic basketball team. He passed away Thursday, March 7 at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn at the age of 86.

Hunter was a stand-out guard from NCC, leading the Eagles to the 1950 Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association (now the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association-CIAA) Tournament championship under John McLendon. On April 26, 1950, Hunter became the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract. Hunter was cut during training camp and never got the chance to play in the NBA. Hunter would, however, go on to become the first African-American to coach the U.S. Olympic Team in 1968. Hunter would also send 17 players to the NBA while head coach of the Tennessee State University Tigers basketball program. (Hoopedia/
He also coached the women’s and men’s basketball teams at Xavier, Dillard and Southern universities in New Orleans.
Hunter was inducted into the NCCU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984, and received a Trailblazer Award from the Department of Athletics during NCCU’s Centennial celebration in Dec. 2009.
Hunter was born April 30, 1926, in Kansas City, Kansas.

Details regarding the memorial service are not available at this time.

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