Former Tennessee State University Director of Athletics and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers has passed away at 77.
Sayers served the university as its director of athletics from 1985-86.
“TSU is truly saddened over the passing of football great Mr. Gale Sayers, and he will always be remembered as a part of our University family,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.
“I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Mr. Sayers’ family during this very difficult time,” said TSU’s current director of athletics, Dr. Mikki Allen. “The life that Mr. Sayers lived was truly legendary, as he was an inspiration to so many generations of players and fans that love the game of football.”
Before moving into athletics administration, Sayers had become a household name after playing six decorated years for the Chicago Bears. The No. 4 pick in the 1965 NFL draft, Sayers rushed for 4,956 yards, scored 56 touchdowns and ranks fifth on the list of top 100 Bears players of all time. The four-time Pro Bowler went on to become a four-time Hall of Famer, earning spots in the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, Black Sports Hall of Fame, National Football League Hall of Fame and the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame.
“Throughout the history of Tennessee State Athletics there have been many great leaders that have come before me,” Dr. Allen continues. “It’s an absolute honor to serve in the same leadership capacity as Mr. Sayers did in the late 80’s. Mr. Sayers was an icon and his legacy will forever live on in the world of sports.”
Under Sayers’ direction, Tennessee State football went 7-4 under head coach William Thomas. The men’s basketball program closed out the season 14-14 under newly acquired head coach Larry Reid, and TSU legend Sharon Jarrett led the Lady Tigers to a 13-14 finish.
“Sayers stepped into the role of AD and continued the TSU legacy of sports giants that helped to propel our program to national prominence,” Dr. Glover said.
Sayers’ story lives on in his autobiography, I Am Third.