Fred Snowden

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Fred Snowden
Current position
TitleHead coach
Biographical details
Bornc. 1936
Brewton, Alabama
DiedJanuary 17, 1994
Washington, D.C.
Playing career
1954–1958Wayne State (MI)
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1967–1972Michigan (assistant)
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
WAC regular season (1976)
WAC Coach of the Year (1973)

Frederick Snowden (c. 1936 – January 17, 1994) was an American businessman and men's basketball coach at the University of Arizona. Nicknamed "The Fox" for his cool demeanor,[1] he was the first African-American head coach at a major university.[2] Following his coaching career Snowden became an executive with Baskin-Robbins and the Food 4 Less foundation.


Snowden was born in Brewton, Alabama, the son of a sharecropper. At age 6 he moved to Detroit, Michigan with his mother and two brothers while his father remained in Alabama.[3][4] He graduated from Detroit's Northwestern High School. Snowden met his wife, Maya, at Wayne State University and was married in 1962.[5] The couple had two children: a son, Charles Anthony, and a daughter, Stacey Shannon.[3]

Following college, Snowden worked as a basketball coach at his old high school. During his five-year tenure, the school's junior varsity team compiled a record of 90 wins to no losses while the varsity squad had a record of 87 wins and 7 losses. Snowden then worked as a sportscaster on local radio and television before becoming an assistant coach at the University of Michigan under Dave Strack and Johnny Orr.[4]

University of Arizona[edit]

In 1972, Snowden became the first African-American head coach at a major university and the second black head coach at a Division I school, following Illinois State's Will Robinson, when he accepted a position at the University of Arizona.[3] The year before Snowden's arrival, the school had a 6-20 record and drew about 1,000 fans to each game. In his first year as coach, he achieved a 16-12 records and increased attendance to 5,000 and following the opening of McKale Center attracted crowds of 14,000 to the Wildcat's home games.[4] Following his first season he was also named Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, Tucson's Man of the Year and hosted two television shows.[1] Under Snowden's tutelage the Arizona program continued to succeed for several years, making the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament twice and reaching the Elite Eight in 1976.

Arizona's success under Snowden faded following their move to the Pacific-10 Conference in 1978, with his final three seasons resulting in losing records. In January 1982, the coach announced his resignation at the end of the season. At the time of the announcement there were allegations that he had been involved with the improper use of a university slush fund, a charge that Snowden denied.[6] A later NCAA investigation found no evidence Snowden had acted improperly.[3] He was inducted into the University of Arizona hall of fame in 1988.[7]

Post-coaching career[edit]

Following the end of his coaching career, Snowden became a management consultant and operated his own business. In 1985 he was hired by Baskin-Robbins as vice president overseeing the company's National Metropolitan Franchise Expansion Program.[8] Snowden later left Baskin-Robbins and became executive director of the Food 4 Less foundation.[3]

Snowden's death came on January 17, 1994. While traveling to Washington, D.C. to attend a White House ceremony, he suffered a heart attack while at a convenience store and died at George Washington Hospital.[3]

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Arizona Wildcats (Western Athletic Conference) (1972–1978)
1972–73 Arizona 16–10 9–5 T–2nd
1973–74 Arizona 19–7 9–5 T–2nd
1974–75 Arizona 22–7 9–5 T–2nd NCIT Runner-up
1975–76 Arizona 24–9 11–3 1st NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1976–77 Arizona 21–6 10–4 2nd NCAA Division I First Round
1977–78 Arizona 15–11 6–8 T–4th
Arizona Wildcats (Pacific-10 Conference) (1978–1982)
1978–79 Arizona 16–11 10–8 T–4th
1979–80 Arizona 12–15 6–12 6th
1980–81 Arizona 13–14 8–10 T-5th
1981–82 Arizona 9–18 4–14 T–8th
Arizona: 167–108 82–74
Total: 167–108

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ a b McDermott, Barry (February 11, 1974). "Blooming Cactus Flowers". Sports Illustrated. 40 (6): 50–1.
  2. ^ Kirkpatrick, Curry (December 2, 1974). "Somewhere Out West Is The Wacky Wac". Sports Illustrated. 41 (23): 41–4.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Thomas, Robert McG., Jr. (January 19, 1994). "Fred Snowden, Basketball Coach And Black Pioneer, Is Dead at 57". New York Times. pp. D20.
  4. ^ a b c Robinson, Louie (April 1977). "The Desert Fox". Ebony. 32 (6): 44–52.
  5. ^ Hansen, Greg (September 12, 2008). "Maya Snowden, Don Haskins were big losses to Tucson, basketball". Arizona Daily Star.
  6. ^ Thomas, Robert McG., Jr. (January 10, 1982). "Coach Denies Pressure Forced Him to Resign". New York Times.
  7. ^ Kelley, James (November 21, 2003). "UA legend Snowden paved way for black coaches". Arizona Daily Wildcat.
  8. ^ Company, Johnson Publishing (May 6, 1985). "Fred Snowden is Named a Baskin-Robbins Co. V.P." Jet. 68 (8): 37.