WVSU Associate Professor Recognized by Football Coaches Association with Trailblazer Award

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
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Jan. 10, 2017
WVSU Associate Professor Recognized by Football Coaches Association with Trailblazer Award
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – A long-time West Virginia State University (WVSU) associate professor and one time Yellow Jacket football coach has been honored by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) with the organization’s 2016 Trailblazer Award.

Oree Banks, WVSU associate professor of Health and Human Performance, was honored Monday, Jan. 9, at the 2017 AFCA Convention in Nashville, Tenn. Banks is a former head football coach at WVSU and South Carolina State.

“This is an honor befitting someone of Coach Banks’ stature. He is a legendary coach and the epitome of a trailblazer,” said WVSU President Dr. Anthony L. Jenkins. “What he has accomplished as a coach and educator clearly places him in a rare class. He has shown a lifelong commitment to working with student–athletes to become champions of character both on the field and in the classroom.”

The AFCA Trailblazer Award honors early leaders in the football coaching profession who coached at historically black colleges and universities.

“I am very humbled by this recognition and I am blessed to be honored by my peers,” said Banks.

Banks graduated from high school in Newton, Miss., and volunteered in the U.S. Army, where he served in a field artillery battalion and with the Army Medical Corps as a lab technician. After his tour with the Army and a year spent at Indiana University, Banks attended Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., where he played defensive end and lettered for the Wildcats from 1956 to 1958. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kansas State.

In 1960, Banks became the head coach at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, Miss. For four seasons, Banks led the Tigers to a 27-7-1 record as the team won or shared the Southern Intercollegiate Conference each of those seasons. Along with his duties as football coach, Banks was also athletic director and instructor at the school. Following his time at Coahoma, Banks was brought on as an assistant coach by the legendary Eddie Robinson at Grambling State University.

Following his stint at Grambling, Banks went on to become the head coach at South Carolina State University in 1965. In his first three seasons with the Bulldogs, Banks guided his team to a 22-4 record. Banks received NAIA and SIAC Coach of the Year honors for his 1965 season.

After leaving South Carolina State, Banks served as an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina, the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin before being named the head football coach at WVSU in 1977.

Banks came to WVSU as both an associate professor and head football coach. He wore both hats until after the 1983 football season. Since that time he has worked as an associate professor of Health and Human Performance.

Banks was previously named to the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1995 and to the WVSU “W” Club Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Coahoma Community College in 2013 as well as the state of Mississippi Community College Foundation Sports Hall of Fame.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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