Darryl Hill (American football)

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Darryl Andre Hill (born October 21, 1943 in Washington, D.C.) is a former American college football player and is considered the "Jackie Robinson of Southern college football".[citation needed] When he played football for the University of Maryland in 1963 he was instrumental in reducing the racial barriers that prevailed in college sports in the South at that time. He was an early advocate of minority business enterprise and was a ground breaking businessman who did business in Russia and China in the 1990s.

Early Years[edit]

Darryl Hill was the eldest of two children born to Kermit and Palestine Hill in Washington, DC. Darryl came from a family of entrepreneurs. His father, Kermit, owned and operated Hill’s Transfer Company which was one of the nation’s largest black-owned commercial trucking firms in the 1950s and 1960s. Both grandfathers were African American business owners. His great grandfather, a Native American, was an entrepreneur and the first person of color to be hired by the Washington, DC Fire Department.

Hill attended public and parochial grade schools in DC and entered Jesuit-run Gonzaga College High School on an academic scholarship which was earned by a competitive entrance examination. While at Gonzaga he became the first African American to play football for the school and in 1959 he led his team to the City Championship. In his senior year, Hill was named first team All DC Metropolitan in football. In track he was Catholic League champion and record holder in the 400 yard dash and the long jump.

College career[edit]

In 1960 at the age of 16 Hill attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio on a football scholarship where he was the leading scorer and ground gainer on the freshman football team.

In 1961 he received a congressional appointment to the United States Naval Academy. He was the first black man to play football at Navy and one of the first to play at any military academy. He starred on Navy’s plebe team where he was the favorite target for future Dallas Cowboys quarterback and NFL Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach. Leading his team in all purpose yardage, Hill helped them to an 8-1 record.

After deciding to resign from the Naval Academy in 1962, Hill was recruited by future ESPN sports analyst Lee Corso, then an assistant coach at University of Maryland, to play for the Terps. Corso had been encouraged by Maryland head coach Tom Nugent to try to find a black athlete to play for his team. Hill was at first hesitant to transfer when he was approached by Corso, saying, "I'm no Jackie Robinson. I just want to play football."[citation needed] When told that it might be couple of years before another black man would be recruited, Hill relented. When Hill enrolled into Maryland in September 1962 he became the first African American to receive an athletic scholarship to play sports for a major university in the South. Maryland was a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) which along with the other two major athletic conferences in the South, the Southeastern Conference and the Southwestern Conference (now the Big 12), had no blacks playing football for any of their teams.

After sitting out one year, he played his historic first game in 1963 at home against North Carolina State. Hill emerged as a top wide receiver for the team, and, while not having to endure too much racism on the field, had to deal with the taunts and threats of many fans on the road, including a death threat before a game at the University of South Carolina. [1] Yet with the support of his teammates, he was able to play out the season and finished with 43 catches, five short of the ACC record.

At the end of that season, Hill played an away game against the Clemson University Tigers, who were led by racially biased coach Frank Howard. After Maryland announced that Hill was to play for Maryland, Clemson threatened to leave the conference. Howard then vowed that his team would not allow any black to play in their stadium, the feared Death Valley, and threatened to pull out of the game if Maryland brought Hill with them. The game went on but Hill’s mother, Palestine, was refused entry to the ‘whites only’ stadium. Clemson President Robert Edwards took Mrs. Hill to his private box and then Darryl proceeded to set the ACC record for pass receptions in a game, a record that stood for many years.

Business career[edit]

After a short stint with the New York Jets where he caught a few balls from Joe Namath, he entered graduate school and launched his business career. He continued his pioneering efforts, working to assist minorities to enter the business economy. In 1969 he became the Executive Director of the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation. He then took the positions of Executive Director of the Washington, DC Business Development Center and the Greater Washington Business Center. Over ten years his organizations helped 2,500 minority owned businesses with technical assistance, marketing and financing. He launched the first publicly owned MESBIC (Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company). President Richard Nixon appointed Hill co-chairman of the National Minority Purchasing Council.

In 1977, Hill opened one of the first black-owned mainstream fine dining restaurants in the nation, W.H. Bone & Company.

In 1982, Hill moved to Alameda, California and founded Pacific Energy Corporation and Polaris Energy which were early green energy businesses. Polaris Energy operated on both coasts and was one of the nation’s largest minority owned energy companies.

In 1991, Hill turned his business sights to Russia where he engaged in a number of business ventures including purchasing a major optical company in the city of Novosibirsk. He then took his company, Northstar International, to Central Siberia where he formed a forestry joint venture with the government of the Republic of Buryatia. Hill and Northstar also organized a venture in Belem, Brazil to recover sunken timber from the Amazon River.

During the 1990s, Hill opened restaurants in Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC. and in 2000 formed a joint venture with Ideal Packaging Company, which is the largest paperboard packaging company in the Republic of China.[citation needed]

In 2003, Hill became Director of Major Gifts for the University of Maryland Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. During his tenure at Maryland he completed one of the largest naming rights deals in the history of college athletics.

Hill is currently Chairman of Kids Play USA Foundation, whose mission is to remove financial barriers from youth sports.

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