A&T Mourns The Loss of a Coaching Legend
GREENSBORO (October 5, 2017) – The North Carolina A&T State University family mourns the passing of football coaching legend Hornsby Howell, Sr. Howell died at the age of 90 on Oct. 3, 2017. He was a nationally-known athletic administrator who began his career as a football trainer before working his way up to eventually becoming the head football and athletics director at N.C. A&T. Howell made a name for himself as the head coach of Aggies football from 1968-1976. In 1968, he was also named the school’s athletics director.
In his first season as the head coach, the Pittsburgh Courier named the Aggies the black college football national champions following an 8-1 season where their only loss was a 9-6 setback to Maryland State (now known as Maryland Eastern Shore). Two years later, Howell played a pivotal role in the Aggies transitioning from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, a league they were a member of since 1924, to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The move would eventually lead to the Aggies becoming a Division I program.
Howell made the transition seamless, going 6-4-1 overall and 3-2-1 in the MEAC the first year before going 8-2 overall and 4-2 the second year. In 1975, Howell was responsible for leading the Aggies to the first of their eight MEAC championships as the Aggies finished 8-3 overall and 5-1 in the conference. During his coaching career at N.C. A&T, Howell went 55-34-4, had six winning seasons and three 8-win seasons. He is tied for second with Bert Piggot on the Aggies all-time wins list.
Howell’s coaching career at N.C. A&T concluded with him having coached greats such as defensive backs Mel Phillips, Morris McKie, Willie Pearson and Thomas Warren, defensive linemen William Wideman and Dwaine Board, guard Mel Holmes, linebacker Ralph Coleman, offensive tackle Lonnie Leonard, wide receiver Willie Wright, quarterback Ellsworth Turner, running back George Ragsdale and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea. In 2003, Howell received national recognition when he was chosen by Bethea to be his presenter at the Hall of Fame ceremony in Canton, Ohio. Hornsby was the 16th college coach to present a former player. He was Bethea’s defensive line coach before taking over as head coach.
Of Howell, Bethea said: “Coach Howell was the guy that got me ready for where I am. From day one, when he was a defensive line coach at A&T, he was the guy that instilled in me all the things it takes to be a college athlete and a determined athlete.”
A 1950 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, Howell had approximately 30 years of college coaching experience at the Division I, Division 1-AA and Division II levels. He spent more than 40 years working in a collegiate athletics department as a trainer, assistant coach, head coach, athletics director or an assistant athletics director. Howell, who also received his Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees from N.C. A&T in 1958, worked at the university for more 20 than years. Howell also served as an administrative assistant to the athletics director at the University of Georgia (1982-96) and interim athletics director at Savannah State (1996-98).
Funeral arrangements are being made at Lea Funeral Home in Raleigh, N.C. Howell was married to the former Claudette Barr Bowen of Rocky Mount, N.C. He is survived by four children, Ruby, Yoletta, Rodney and Hornsby, Jr.