Ken Sparks

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Ken Sparks
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1944-02-25)February 25, 1944
Knoxville, Tennessee
Died March 29, 2017(2017-03-29) (aged 73)
Knoxville, Tennessee
Playing career
1967 Carson–Newman
Position(s) Wide receiver
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1977–1979 Farragut HS (TN)
1980–2016 Carson–Newman
Head coaching record
Overall 338–99–2 (college)
29–5 (high school)
Tournaments 19–5 (NAIA playoffs)
19–15 (NCAA D-II playoffs)
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
5 NAIA (1983–1984, 1986, 1988–1989)
21 SAC (1982–1984, 1986, 1988–1991, 1993–1999, 2002–2004, 2007–2009)

Ken Sparks (February 25, 1944 – March 29, 2017) was an American football coach and player. He served as the head football coach at Carson–Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee from 1980 until his retirement at the end of the 2016 season. He is currently the record-holder for the most wins as a coach in NCAA Division II history. His Carson–Newman Eagles won five NAIA Championships (1983–1984, 1986, 1988–1989), and were three times runners-up in the NCAA Division II playoffs (1996, 1998, and 1999).

Biography[edit]

Sparks was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He played college football as a wide receiver at Carson–Newman and graduated from the school in 1968. He was football coach at Gibbs High School in Knoxville. The next year, he received a master's degree from Tennessee Technological University where he also coached quarterbacks and receivers. He coached at Morristown East High School in Morristown, Tennessee.

In the early 1970s, Sparks was an assistant coach on the Carson–Newman football team that was a runner up in the NAIA championship game. He coached the school's track team and he was named Southern Collegiate Track Coach of the Year. In 1977, he returned to Carson-Newman where he coached the track team.

In the fall, he coached at Farragut High School in Knoxville where he accumulated a 29–5 record. Among his players was Bill Bates.

Following his string of successes, Carson-Newman built the new Burke–Tarr Stadium in 2005.

Sparks, who was once Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Coach of the Year, actively pursues a Christian aspect in his coaching and is a popular public speaker. He was quoted as saying that, if football can be used as a tool to bring people to the Lord, then "it has done something. If it hasn't, we haven't done a thing, no matter how many games we won."[1]

After 37 years as the head coach at Carson-Newman University, Ken Sparks announced his retirement on November 14, 2016 at a press conference in the Ken Sparks Athletic Complex on the campus of Carson-Newman University.[2]

Sparks died March 29, 2017 after a four-year battle with prostate cancer.

Head coaching record[edit]

College[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Carson–Newman Eagles (South Atlantic Conference) (1980–2016)
1980 Carson–Newman 7–3 5–2 3rd
1981 Carson–Newman 7–4 4–3 3rd
1982 Carson–Newman 10–2 6–1 1st L NAIA Quarterfinal
1983 Carson–Newman 10–3 6–1 1st W NAIA Championship
1984 Carson–Newman 10–2–1 6–1 1st T NAIA Championship
1985 Carson–Newman 5–5 3–4 5th
1986 Carson–Newman 12–1 6–1 1st W NAIA Championship
1987 Carson–Newman 10–4 4–3 T–3rd L NAIA Championship
1988 Carson–Newman 12–2 5–2 T–1st W NAIA Championship
1989 Carson–Newman 12–1 6–1 1st W NAIA Championship
1990 Carson–Newman 11–1 7–0 1st L NAIA Semifinal
1991 Carson–Newman 10–1 7–0 1st L NAIA Quarterfinal
1992 Carson–Newman 8–3 6–1 2nd L NAIA Quarterfinal
1993 Carson–Newman 8–2–1 6–1 1st L NCAA Division II First Round
1994 Carson–Newman 8–3 6–1 T–1st L NCAA Division II First Round
1995 Carson–Newman 9–3 6–1 1st L NCAA Division II Quarterfinal
1996 Carson–Newman 12–2 6–1 1st L NCAA Division II Championship
1997 Carson–Newman 11–1 7–0 1st L NCAA Division II Semifinal
1998 Carson–Newman 12–2 7–0 1st L NCAA Division II Championship
1999 Carson–Newman 13–1 8–0 1st L NCAA Division II Championship
2000 Carson–Newman 8–2 5–2 3rd
2001 Carson–Newman 6–3 5–2 T–2nd
2002 Carson–Newman 12–1 7–0 1st L NCAA Division II Quarterfinal
2003 Carson–Newman 11–2 6–1 1st L NCAA Division II Quarterfinal
2004 Carson–Newman 9–3 6–1 1st L NCAA Division II Second Round
2005 Carson–Newman 8–2 5–2 2nd
2006 Carson–Newman 8–3 4–3 4th
2007 Carson–Newman 10–1 5–1 T–1st
2008 Carson–Newman 7–4 5–2 T–1st L NCAA Division II First Round
2009 Carson–Newman 11–3 7–0 1st L NCAA Division II Semifinal
2010 Carson–Newman 7–4 5–2 2nd
2011 Carson–Newman 5–6 3–4 5th
2012 Carson–Newman 9–3 5–2 2nd L NCAA Division II Quarterfinal
2013 Carson–Newman 10–3 5–2 2nd L NCAA Division II Second Round
2014 Carson–Newman 7–3 5–2 2nd
2015 Carson–Newman 9–3 5–2 T–2nd L NCAA Division II First Round
2016 Carson–Newman 4–7 2–5 7th
Carson–Newman: 338–99–2 203–57
Total: 338–99–2
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]