Joe Williams, who coached tiny Jacksonville University to 1970 NCAA title game against UCLA, dead at 88


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Joe Williams, who coached the men’s basketball workforce at little Jacksonville College to its greatest glory — the 1970 NCAA championship recreation against John Wooden’s UCLA dynasty — died Saturday. He was 88.

Williams died in Organization, Mississippi, even though in hospice care next a prolonged struggle with cancer, his son Joe Williams Jr. said. 

Williams was very best regarded and will be without end remembered as the chief of a person of the most memorable Cinderella tales in NCAA tournament heritage. His 1970 JU Dolphins squad, led by Artis Gilmore, built a beautiful run to the NCAA finals, dropping to UCLA and mentor Wooden in the championship match, 80-69.

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UCLA Bruins coach John Wooden, left, is congratulated by Jacksonville coach Joe Williams after UCLA beat the Dolphins, 80-69, in the national championship March 21, 1970, in College Park, Md.

UCLA Bruins coach John Wooden, left, is congratulated by Jacksonville coach Joe Williams immediately after UCLA beat the Dolphins, 80-69, in the nationwide championship March 21, 1970, in University Park, Md.
(AP Photograph/File)

“Joe experienced this desire, in my feeling, to make us as very good as we could be,” claimed Tom Wasdin, who succeeded Williams as head mentor following the 1970 year, in accordance to the Florida Moments-Union. “We were being striving to outcoach most people and observed out expertise was more vital than coaching. We did not have guys excellent ample to perform in opposition to the major colleges.”

Williams was an assistant mentor at Furman before arriving at JU in 1964. The Dolphins competed in the NAIA for one much more time in advance of moving up to Division I. 

In Williams’ sixth and remaining time with the group, it produced its spectacular run, beating Western Kentucky, Iowa, Kentucky and St. Bonaventure just before getting rid of to UCLA. The victory gave UCLA its fourth consecutive nationwide championship and sixth in seven years.

UCLA coach John Wooden on the sidelines yelling alongside assistant Denny Crum during a game against Jacksonville in College Park, Md. March 21, 1970.

UCLA coach John Wood on the sidelines yelling along with assistant Denny Crum during a activity against Jacksonville in University Park, Md. March 21, 1970.
(Prosperous Clarkson /Athletics Illustrated through Getty Images)

Gilmore and Rex Morgan have been both of those All-American gamers for the Dolphins, which begun the period unranked. Gilmore played his first two seasons in junior college or university just before signing with Williams and Jacksonville.


“So we went out and obtained some incredibly high-quality gentlemen in [Pembrook] Burrows, Gilmore, Morgan, Chip Dublin, and the relaxation is historical past. He turned JU from an NAIA university into a Division I ability. Joe under no circumstances acquired the credit for being as very good a mentor as he was. He received each and every put he went,” Wasdin added. 

Artis Gilmore (53) of the Jacksonville University Dolphins grabs a rebound during the finals of an NCAA tournament against UCLA. 

Artis Gilmore (53) of the Jacksonville University Dolphins grabs a rebound all through the finals of an NCAA match from UCLA. 
(Getty Pictures)

In excess of 22 seasons, Williams compiled an over-all history of 336-231 as head coach at JU (1964-1970), Furman and Florida State College. Williams remaining Jacksonville following the title game visual appeal to return to Furman, exactly where he coached until 1978 in advance of heading to Florida State.

What designed Williams various was his willingness to recruit Black players to Southern faculties at a time when numerous coaches still refused to do so, his son explained. 

“He was a person of the initially coaches in the South to do that. When Dad would travel with the staff, if there was a restaurant that would not allow the entire crew try to eat together, Father just packed the complete staff up, and they went to a cafe the place they could,” Joe Williams Jr. said.

“Father was hardly ever just one to get on a soap box and speak about things like that. It was extra that he just constantly did the ideal thing. … He went via a ton. He obtained dying threats in the mail. But he just recognized all his gamers were being equivalent and required to deal with them similarly. It was about educating his players how to be a great human currently being,” his son included. 

Williams got into coaching by accident, his son explained. Williams was a significant faculty English teacher in Jacksonville right until somebody realized he performed basketball in university and questioned if he preferred to enable mentor.

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“He recognized that was his enthusiasm and that’s what he needed to do,” Joe Williams Jr. claimed.

The Linked Press contributed to this report

By Harriet