Gerald Hector welcomes George Williams to It's Easy Son
George Williams is one of the most iconic figures in the history of collegiate athletics. The legendary coach built a track and field powerhouse at Saint Augustine's University and kept it in the limelight during his illustrious 44-year coaching career.
The Falcons and Lady Falcons captured an astounding 39 NCAA Division II national titles, which places Williams among the Mount Everest of coaches. He ranks third all- time among coaches for most championships in NCAA history, regardless of division.
That puts him well ahead of other notable coaches such as Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, Nick Saban, Bobby Knight and the late John Wooden.
In addition to winning 39 national crowns, the Falcons and Lady Falcons combined for 33 national runner-up finishes and a mind-boggling 282 individual national crowns. The Falcons and Lady Falcons also excelled in the classroom. His scholarship student-athletes had an astonishing 95 percent graduation rate.
Williams tops several NCAA coaching categories including - most track and field championships as a coach, most track and field championships at one school as a coach and most Division II track & field championships as a coach. No coach in the CIAA has won more national and conference titles than Williams, regardless of the sport.
It's no surprise that Williams collected over 150 coaching awards, including 20 NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year Awards from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCA). He's amassed numerous CIAA coaching honors and was the 2014 CIAA Athletic Director of the Year.
His coaching contributions over the years have earned Williams two major awards. Last summer, he received the Legend Coach Award from USA Track and Field, the country’s governing body for the sport at the U.S. Track & Field Championships. Then in December 2022, Williams was named winner of the George Dales Award from the USTFCCCA. The award is given annually to the individual who enhanced the profession of coaching cross country and track field.
In 2004, Williams reached the pinnacle of his sport as the Head U.S. Olympic Track and Field Coach. He also served as assistant coach of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team in Atlanta, Ga., where each athlete he was responsible for won a gold medal.
He was the U.S. men’s head coach at the 1999 World Outdoor Championships in Seville, Spain, the 1993 World Indoor Championships in Toronto, Canada, and the 1992 IAAF World Cup in Havana, Cuba.
The legendary Williams has coached more than 40 Olympians, including Olympic champion Antonio Pettigrew, and world champion and Olympic medalist Bershawn "Batman" Jackson, who is the current Saint Augustine’s Head Track & Field Coach.
Under Williams’ direction as a college and pro coach, Jackson tallied a 2004 NCAA title, a 2005 world title, a 2008 Olympic bronze medal and five U.S. championships in the 400-meter hurdles.
The incredible accolades amassed by the Falcons and Lady Falcons put the program and Coach Williams on a national and international stage during his coaching career. They were featured in Sports Illustrated, ESPN and other national media outlets. Coach Williams was once a guest on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Local media highlighted the SAU program over the years.
Williams and his famed track & field program were recognized during a halftime ceremony at an NCAA Division I Tournament First-Round Men’s Basketball Game in Raleigh, N.C. for their success in 2014 and 2016. The men’s team was recognized during a Division I Second-Round Men’s Basketball Game in Charlotte, N.C., in 2018.
Other organizations heaped praise on Williams. The city of Elizabeth City, N.C., honored Williams in September 2004 with a key to the city. The city of Raleigh, N.C., honored the longtime Saint Augustine's University coach with a Proclamation, naming Nov. 16, 2004, as George Williams Day for his outstanding contributions in track and field. The Newark YMCA Sports Legends honored Williams in November 2004, and the city of Miami, Fla., honored Coach Williams, a Miami native, with a Proclamation naming Feb. 7, 2004, as George Williams Day.
Williams was the starter of the famed Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon series in Raleigh, N.C.The race, billed as the “World Largest Running Series” was held April 13, 2014. In 2012,Williams was selected 13th among the CIAA 100 Greatest Athletes and Coaches during the year of the conference’s 100th anniversary.
On February 16, 2012, Williams was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Raleigh (N.C.) Sports Council. In March 2009, Williams was selected an honoree in the “Living Legends” Orange; Black Scholarship Gala Awards Ceremony by the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association. The Gala honors outstanding alumni of Booker T. Washington Senior High School.
On June 20, 2008, Williams received the Bighouse Gaines Unsung Hero Award from the Winston-Salem State University Alumni Association. In 2019, a highway sign honoring the 2017 men’s outdoor national championship team was erected on Interstate 40 near campus.
Williams won other honors such as The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award three times - from Governor Jim Martin, Governor James Hunt in 1996 and Governor Michael Easley in 2004. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award is the highest civilian honor presented by the Governor of North Carolina. In August 2016, an exhibit honoring Williams was displayed at the City of Raleigh (N.C.) Museum.
His accomplishments earned him membership in nine Halls of Fame: the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Florida Track and Field Hall of Fame, the Saint Augustine's University Athletic Hall of Fame, the Booker T. Washington High School (Miami, Fla.) Hall of Fame, the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame, the Raleigh (N.C.) Hall of Fame, the Newark (N.J.) YMCA Legends Hall of Fame and the Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame.
A faithful Falcon, Williams has served his alma mater (graduated 1965) in a variety of roles since 1968 including director of alumni affairs, admissions counselor, director of student activities and head basketball coach. Williams was named men’s and women’s track and field and cross country coach in 1976 and named athletic director in 1997.
As athletic director, Williams arranged for Saint Augustine’s University to become the first historically black college to host the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships in 2003. Saint Augustine’s University hosted the Atlantic Region Cross Country Championships in 2010.
In his one season as men’s basketball coach, Williams led the Falcons to a division title in 1998.
His notoriety at Saint Augustine's began as a basketball student-athlete at his alma mater. Williams, who was potent from the perimeter, was one of the CIAA's top sharpshooters of his era. One of his biggest highlights was leading the Falcons to a come-from-behind 77-68 overtime win over perennial power North Carolina A&T, handing the Aggies their first home loss in several seasons. He scored a game-high 26 points in the victory.
Williams was so accurate from the outside, his former coach Jesse Clements used him as his top weapon against a zone defense. In essence, Williams was a "zone buster". Williams is married to the former Olivia Hardy. They have one daughter Dr. Crystal Harrell, a son-in-law Steve Harrell, and twin granddaughters Haley and Grace.