Bill Hayes Connell Maynor
CIAA

WSSU and A&T players team up to get Bill Hayes honored

Bill Hayes practically built the Winston-Salem State football program. Now the field which he did it upon will be named after him.

Photo Courtesy: Garrett Garms/WSSU

Forty-five years after starting a job to build a football program for a basketball school, Bill Hayes is getting some of his just due. 

Tuesday night the Winston-Salem City Council voted unanimously to name the playing surface at Bowman Gray Stadium Bill Hayes field. The city owns the stadium which WSSU has played on since its football program started in the 1940s.

“It is times like this that causes me to reflect on the time as a kid that I was in bed fighting polio,” Hayes said via the Winston-Salem Journal. “I promised God that if he let me walk, one day I would run and jump. And if he let me run and jump, I would go hard and do something special with my life.”

Former WSSU basketball player and coach Tim Grant is also being honored by the city. Quarry Park will now be named after him. He served as the first African-American Recreation Director for the City for nearly 20 years.

A native of Durham, NC, Hayes was a star at all-black Hillside High School before going on to North Carolina College and staring under head coach Herman Riddick. When his playing days were over he went into coaching, becoming an assistant at Wake Forest University in the mid-1970s. He was hired by Clarence “Big House” Gaines to take over the school’s football program, which had yet to win a CIAA championship.

Led by quarterback Kermit Blount and future NFL running back Timmy Newsome, WSSU won the CIAA in Hayes’ second year and did it again the following season, completing the 1977 and 1978 seasons with perfect regular season records. Hayes would continue to field strong teams into the 1980s. His teams not only won lots of games — they put lots of players in the NFL. Hayes would go on to lead WSSU to the 1987 CIAA title before leaving the following year to take over rival North Carolina A&T. He finished with a record of 89-40-2 in 12 seasons at the helm.

Bill Hayes

WSSU was just Act One of an amazing career as a coach and administrator. He would lead NCA&T to three MEAC football titles before retiring from coaching. He would then return to his alma mater, helping NC Central prepare for the move to Division I. And after a short stint as Director of Athletics in at Florida A&M, he came back full-circle and helped turn WSSU into a Division II powerhouse after its attempt to move to Division I failed before retiring in 2014.

Hayes has been honored in both the CIAA and MEAC Hall of Fames as well as the Black College Football Hall of Fame and many others. Now he will be immortalized with not only his name on the field that he once toiled upon, but also with a statue as well. His former players at WSSU and A&T have raised $130k to have him honored with a bronze statue outside the field house at Bowman Gray Stadium.

“This is something all of us former players have pushed for and came together for, and now it’s a reality,” said Donald Evans, a second-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1987. “And what says the most about Coach Hayes is that players from A&T and WSSU came together as one to get this done.”


Tuesday night the Winston-Salem City Council voted unanimously to name the playing surface at Bowman Gray Stadium Bill Hayes field. 

“It is times like this that causes me to reflect on the time as a kid that I was in bed fighting polio,” Hayes said via the Winston-Salem Journal. “I promised God that if he let me walk, one day I would run and jump. And if he let me run and jump, I would go hard and do something special with my life.”

A native of Durham, NC, Hayes was a star at all-black Hillside High School before going on to North Carolina College and staring under head coach Herman Riddick. When his playing days were over he went into coaching, becoming an assistant at Wake Forest University in the mid-1970s. He was hired by Clarence “Big House” Gaines to take over the school’s football program, which had yet to win a CIAA championship.

Led by quarterback Kermit Blount and future NFL running back Timmy Newsome, WSSU won the CIAA in Hayes’ second year and did it again the following season, completing the 1977 and 1978 seasons with perfect regular season records. Hayes would continue to field strong team into the 1980s. His teams not only won lots of games — they put lots of players in the NFL. Hayes would go on to lead WSSU to the 1987 CIAA title before leaving the following year to take over rival North Carolina A&T.


WSSU was just Act One for Bill Hayes. He would lead NCA&T to three MEAC football titles before retiring from coaching. He would then return to his alma mater, helping NC Central prepare for the move to Division I. And after a short stint as Director of Athletics in at Florida A&M, he came back full-circle and helped turn WSSU into a Division II powerhouse after its attempt to move to Division I failed.

Now he will be immortalized with not only his name on the field that he once toiled upon, but also with a statue as well. His former player have raised $130k to have him honored with a bronze statue outside the field house at Bowman Gray Stadium.

“This is something all of us former players have pushed for and came together for, and now it’s a reality,” said Donald Evans, a second round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1987. “And what says the most about Coach Hayes is that players from A&T and WSSU came together as one to get this done.”

WSSU and A&T players team up to get Bill Hayes honored
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