William J. Nicks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
William J. Nicks
Biographical details
Born(1905-08-02)August 2, 1905
Griffin, Georgia
DiedNovember 2, 1999(1999-11-02) (aged 94)
Houston, Texas
Playing career
1920sMorris Brown
Position(s)End, halfback, punter
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1930–1935Morris Brown
1937–1939Morris Brown
1941–1942Morris Brown
1945–1947Prairie View A&M
1948–1951Prairie View A&M (assistant)
1952–1965Prairie View A&M
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
6 Black college national (1941, 1953–1954, 1958, 1963–1964)
NAIA Coach of the Year (1958)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1999 (profile)

William J. "Billy" Nicks (August 2, 1905 – November 2, 1999) was an American football player and coach. He coached at historically black colleges in the Southern United States from 1930 to 1965. Nicks served as the head football coach at Morris Brown College in Georgia (1930–1935, 1937–1939, 1941–1942) and at Prairie View A&M University in Texas (1945–1947, 1952–1965), compiling a career college football record of 188–57–21. He was the NAIA Coach of the Year in 1958 and his teams were declared the black college football national champions six times. Nicks was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1999.

Coaching career[edit]

Morris Brown[edit]

Nicks took first collegiate head coaching position at his alma mater, Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia. Nicks was head football coach at Morris Brown from 1930 to 1935, again from 1937 to 1939, and for two more years in 1941 and 1942. His record at Morris Brown was 66–22–13 for 11 years, and was honored by the Pittsburgh Courier when his 1941 team was named "Black College National Champions".[1]

Prairie View A&M[edit]

Coach Nicks was the eighth head coach for the Prairie View A&M University Panthers located in Prairie View, Texas and he held that position for seventeen seasons, from 1945 until 1965. His career coaching record at Prairie View was 126 wins, 38 losses, and 8 ties—far and away the winningest coach in school history.[2][3]

Nicks led the Panthers to five black college national titles and six Southwestern Athletic Conference titles. In his day, he was reckoned as the HBCU answer to Bear Bryant; indeed, his .787 winning percentage was slightly higher than Bryant's .780. This was partly because he had the pick of nearly every good black high school player in Texas in the days of segregation. A good number of them went into coaching; at one point nearly all of the black high school coaches in the state had played for him. Nicks often called his former players to send their best prospects to "The Hill," and wasn't above threatening to have them fired if they didn't do so.[4]

Nicks was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.[1] Nicks is buried at the Houston Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Pearland, Texas.


  1. ^ a b William J. Nicks at the College Football Hall of Fame
  2. ^ Prairie View A&M University coaching records
  3. ^ "Prairie View Agricultural & Mechanical University Directory". The Sports Network.
  4. ^ Sports Illustrated/CNN "Once Upon A Time..." by John Ed Bradley, August 28, 1995

External links[edit]