William J. "Billy" Nicks Selected as 2007 AFCA Trailblazer Recipient
William J. “Billy” Nicks, Prairie View A&M University coaching legend, has been named the American Football Coaches Association’s recipient of the 2007 Trailblazer Award. The award will be presented posthumously to Nicks at the AFCA Kickoff Luncheon on Monday, January 7 at the 2008 AFCA Convention in Anaheim, California.
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, Cleve Abbott of Tuskegee and Arnett “Ace” Mumford of Southern University. 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 1950-1959.
“Coach Nicks was a great football coach,” Prairie View A&M University head coach Henry Frazier III said. “I’ve met so many alumni that played for him and they have nothing but admiration for him. If I can be half the coach that Coach Nicks was, then I would have done a great job. It’s truly an honor to be able to coach at a place that such a great legend coached at. He is definitely deserving of such a prestigious award.”
Nicks was the head coach at Morris Brown College from 1930-35, 1937-39 and 1941-42. While at Morris Brown, Nicks won more than 60 games, two Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and a Black College National Championship in 1941. He went on to become the head coach at Prairie View A&M from 1945-47, assistant coach at the school in 1948-51, and head coach again from 1952-65.
During his time at Prairie View, Nicks won more than 120 games while winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference title eight times and taking his teams to the Black College National Championship five times. Nicks had a winning record against every SWAC school, including Grambling State and legendary head coach Eddie Robinson.
In addition to coaching football, Coach Nicks also won conference titles as the basketball and baseball coach, and served as the director of athletics. Nicks also served as Director of USO Clubs at Fort Stewart in Georgia and Tuskegee Army-Air Field in Alabama. He was also the special assistant to the university president at Prairie View and ended his professional career as the parks director with the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department.
In addition to the 2007 AFCA Trailblazer Award, Nicks has been honored in a number of different ways. He was inducted into the NAIA, Helms, Prairie View A&M, Morris Brown, the Atlanta University Center and SWAC Halls of Fame. In 1999, Nicks was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Also, the athletic and intramural complex, as well as the athletic field house at Prairie View A&M are named in his honor.