By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO,

Two former NFL players, a two-time championship winning basketball  coach, a three time CIAA Track Coach of The Year, and a championship team headlined the Bowie State Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2019 during its banquet June 29 at the Marriott BWI Airport Hotel.

Approximately, 350 people were on hand as several contemporary Bowie State University (BSU) athletes and coaches were honored for their individual success that led to championships in football, basketball, and women’s track & field.  

Bowie State University held its Hall of Fame banquet on June 29 at the Marriott BWI Airport Hotel and honored several standout athletes and coaches, including current men’s basketball head coach Darrell Brooks. (Courtesy Photo)

Current men’s basketball coach Darrell Brooks took his place in the BSU Hall of Fame in the same year where he earned a postgraduate degree from his alma mater as well.  Brooks was a student-athlete who played basketball for the Bulldogs as an undergraduate,has returned to become arguably its most successful men’s basketball coach in school history.  

When Brooks left the Bronx, New York in 1974 he never envisioned BSU would literally change his life.  He has led the Bulldogs to CIAA Basketball championships in 2013 and 2017 when he was also named Coach of the Year.  Brooks is second-all-time in victories after rebuilding the program following a successful tenure as an assistant coach at George Washington University under Karl Hobbs.

While earning his place in Bulldogs lore, Coach Brooks also had the chance to share his Hall of Fame moment with his team that was inducted as well.  Brooks’ first CIAA Championship team from 2013 joined its leader for a unique place in HBCU sports history.

The irony of that season was that the expectations were limited because of disappointing conclusions to the previous seasons where they were prohibitive favorites only to fall short.  That team personified getting hot at the right time as they won four games in four nights to win the title.

However, that season began with four straight losses and with 11 upperclassmen, tensions grew as they approached the tournament following three consecutive wins to close out the regular season.  Behind the brilliant individual performance of senior Byron Westmoreland, they concluded one of the greatest Tournament runs in CIAA to win the title. In the finals Westmoreland scored 38 points to lead BSU to the upset over Livingstone and earned the most outstanding player award.

Former women’s track coach Marc Harrison was honored as well after building a program from ground zero.  Harrison was named CIAA Coach of the Year from 2004 – 2006 and trained 35 all-American athletes while coaching at BSU.  His 2006 team, which is also in the Hall of Fame, won the CIAA Women’s Outdoor Championship and beat the dynastic St. Augstine’s program coached by legendary George “Pup” Williams.  It was the first championship won in that program’s history.

Harrison was inducted with two of his former athletes this year.  Tyhler Johnson was team captain of that 2006 team and won the 60 meter indoor championship also.  Damara Parrish was an all-CIAA long jumper on that 2006 team was also a member of the class of 2019.

Former NFL players Isaac Redmon and Chuck Alston were honored as well.  Alston played for the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers during four NFL seasons before a four-year Canadian Football League career with the Edmonton Eskimos. He also earned the distinction of being the only NCAA student-athlete who played football and basketball games in the same day and those uniforms are in their Hall of Fame.

Redmond was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers XLV AFC Championship team that lost to the Green Bay Packers.  He graduated as BSU’s all time rushing leader with 3,300 yards and rushed for 1,148 five TDs in his NFL career.