Edward P. Hurt, best known for his legendary coaching career at Morgan State University, has been named the American Football Coaches Association’s recipient of the 2011 Trailblazer Award. The award will be presented posthumously at the AFCA President’s Kickoff Luncheon on Jan. 9 at the 2012 AFCA Convention in San Antonio. Hurt passed away in 1989.
The AFCA Trailblazer Award was created to honor early leaders in the football coaching profession who coached at historically Black colleges and universities. Past Trailblazer Award winners include Charles Williams of Hampton (2004), Cleve Abbott of Tuskegee (2005), Arnett Mumford of Southern (2006), Billy Nicks of Prairie View A&M University (2007), Alonzo “Jake” Gaither of Florida A&M University (2008), Fred “Pops” Long, former head coach at Wiley College (2009), and Harry R. “Big Jeff” Jefferson of Bluefield State College (2010). The award is given each year to a person that coached in a particular decade ranging from 1920-1970. This year’s winner coached from 1940 to 1949.
“The arrival of the Black athlete on the national sports scene in the 1940′ and 50’s goes directly back to Edward P. Hurt,” wrote Herman L. Wade, Hurt’s biographer. “There is not a single Black sports figure in the world today who is not in some small way in the debt of Coach Hurt. And to the extent that Hurt helped to break down racial barriers, our entire country owes him a huge debt of gratitude. We are a better nation because of him.”
After completing his education at Howard University, Hurt began his coaching career at Virginia Theological Seminary and College. He was named assistant coach in 1921, then head coach in 1925. Hurt earned a 15-11-4 record as head football coach, and led the basketball teams to two CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) championships. In 1929, he was hired at Morgan State University and became the head football, basketball, and track and field coach. In addition, he was the school’s athletic director from 1958-1970. During his time there, Hurt’s football teams won six national championships, 14 CIAA championships and produced two NFL Hall of Famers. The football program completed 11 undefeated seasons, and his 1943 team finished the season without allowing a single point. From 1931-38, Hurt coached the Bears to a 54-game winning streak.
Hurt coached the track and field team from 1929 until 1970. By the 1950’s, Morgan State’s track program began drawing national and international attention. Hurt’s teams won 13 CIAA track and field championships and produced eight NCAA champions. Hurt also served on the coaching staff of both the 1959 Pan American Games and the 1964 Olympic Games. During his time as the head basketball coach, his teams won four CIAA championships, winning three of them consecutively in 1931, 1932 and 1933.
In addition to receiving the 2011 Trailblazer Award, Hurt was inducted into the Morgan State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1972, the USA National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1975 and the HBCU Hall of Fame in 1978. In 1952, the Morgan State gymnasium was named in his honor and the school holds the “Eddie Hurt Invitational” track meet annually. Hurt was named Coach of the Year in 1949 by the Washington Pigskin Club, and in 1950, he was named to the Outstanding Coaches of All-Time list by the University of Texas. Hurt was a member of the United States Olympic Committee from 1960-72 and was awarded the U.S. Olympic Committee Service Award in 1964.
When asked about his success, Hurt responded, “If I’ve done anything at all, it’s been because of other coaches; the men, the colleges, the administration, the alumni, friends, just everybody. I’ve only had one formula, and that’s hard work.”