Honorees

October, 1999

Eddie McGirt

Eddie McGirt

Athlete/Coach

From as far back as he can remember, Eddie C. McGirt always wanted to be a football coach. What an outstanding coach he was! Coach McGirt trained some of the nation's most outstanding athletes. He admonished his players that scholarship and community service were essential to success in athletics. "Everyone will not become a professional athlete, and, for those who make it, athletics will not remain forever. You must be well-rounded as a human being and share in the building of your community," he maintained.

Eddie McGirt was born on January 31, 1920 in Camden, S.C. He attended Mather Academy, a school noted for academic excellence, where he starred in football, basketball, and track. Mather required that all of its athletes be proficient students. Throughout his later years as a coach, this ideal became an integral part of McGirt's coaching program.

In 1940, McGirt enrolled at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., where he established himself as one of the school's greatest athletes of all time. In 1940 and 1941, as a star fullback, he was an All-CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) selection. His college career was interrupted in 1943 when he entered the U.S. Army and served during World War II. Following his military service, he returned to JCSU and earned his baccalaureate degree in 1947. Armed with academic and athletic preparedness, McGirt set out on his life's mission: to coach.

He assumed his first coaching position at his alma mater, Mather Academy. During those years, five of his high school basketball teams won South Carolina Athletic Conference championships. In 1958, McGirt's college alma mater was seeking a new coach. Coach McGirt's hard work and commitment to excellence paid off. In September 1958, he was selected as Johnson C. Smith's eleventh modern-day head football coach.

JCSU's football team had been struggling for years. Coach McGirt had the major responsibility of lifting the university's football fortunes "from the cellar of Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association mediocrity to a place of respectability in CIAA circles." McGirt was ready for the task! He accomplished his goals in three seasons. In 1961, he coached the "Golden Bulls" to an 8-1-0 and a second place finish in the CIAA. Throughout his years at JCSU, he generated one of the most exciting football teams in the conference, and his teams were never out of the first division in the final CIAA standings.

In 1978, after 20 years as JCSU's head football coach, McGirt retired. He remained, however, as Athletic Director and Head of the Department of Health and Physical Education until June 30, 1985. During his tenure as coach, his teams won one championship and two divisional championships, and were runners-up twice. His overall record was 118 wins and 73 losses. This "Dean of CIAA Coaches" was named CIAA Coach of the Year in 1969, and NAIA Coach of the Year twice.

Many of the men whom McGirt coached are now in leadership positions throughout the nation. He maintains that his primary mission was to inspire young people to be the best that they can be and to share in building a better future for all mankind.

Coach McGirt has received numerous awards and honors. He has been President of the Southern Division of the CIAA. Among his many affiliations are Phi Delta Kappa Professional Education Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, American Football Coaches Association, and National Athletics Directors Association.