SWAC To Honor Former Grambling State Baseball Coach Wilbert Ellis

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Former Grambling State University baseball coach Wilbert Ellis is among four who will be honored during its annual Legends Reception on Dec. 1 by the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Alumni Association at the Power Center in Houston, Texas.

Ellis joins former Alcorn State Olympian Mildred Netter White, former men’s basketball coach Ben Jobe and Emanuel Barnes who will be honored during the Legends Reception.

Ellis, a native of Ruston, La., has been affiliated with Grambling State athletics for more than 60 years as a baseball player, coach and athletic administrator.  He is best known for his coaching exploits during his 43 years (26 as head coach) with the Tigers’ baseball program. Prior to assuming the head job, he served 17 years as assistant coach under Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, who was Grambling State’s president and head baseball coach for over 30 years.

Ellis led Grambling State to three SWAC championships, eight division crowns and five NCAA Regional appearances en route to compiling a 740-462-1 overall record. His career record ranks third among Louisiana collegiate baseball coaches behind Jones and LSU’s Skip Bertman. He produced eight All-Americans and 48 of his players signed major league baseball contracts.  Ellis won SWAC coach of the Year honors seven times.

The Louisiana State Legislature and Senate recognized him five times during his outstanding coaching tenure at Grambling State. Ellis was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Fame. Also, he served stints as Director of Athletics and Assistant Athletics Director at Grambling State.

Netter White, a 1972 Alcorn State graduate, competed on the 1968 and 1972 U.S. Olympic teams.  An outstanding sprinter, she won a gold medal as a member of the 4×100 meter relay team, which set World, American and Olympic records. White was a three-time All-SWAC and All-NAIA pick from 1968-72. She held the third-best 100m time in the world in 1968.  Additionally, she was a member of the AAU International Team which competed in Norway and Poland in 1968 and 1969, and she was a part of the U. S. European Track and Field Team in 1969-70.

White was selected Female of the Year by the 100% Wrong Club of Atlanta in 1969. She was inducted into the Alcorn State University Hall of Honors in 1992, the SWAC Hall of Fame in 1995, the Alcorn State Hall of Fame in 1996, selected as a Torchbearer in the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay, inducted into Rosedale-West Bolivar (Miss.) High School Hall of Fame in 1998, the Bob Hayes Hall of Fame in 2001, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Clarksdale/Coahoma County (Miss.) Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

Jobe, who will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, grew up in Nashville, Tenn., where he honed his basketball skills hanging around the local YMCAs. There he learned how to play and coach the game of basketball from the legendary John McClendon who taught generations of Black youngsters the values and intricacies of the game of basketball.

Jobe was an All-Star player at Pearl High in Nashville. He went on to star at Fisk University, earning All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference during his junior and senior seasons.  After graduating from Fisk, Jobe embarked on a highly successful collegiate basketball coaching career. He served as head coach of Talladega, Alabama State, South Carolina State College, Denver, Alabama A&M, Southern University (two stints) and Tuskegee.
Jobe perhaps gained the most notoriety during his 12 years at Southern University. The Jaguars led the nation in scoring three times under Jobe, including the 1992-93 season when they averaged 97.0 points a game, and outscored opponents by an average of 24.0 points per game. That same season, the Jaguars upset No. 4 seed Georgia Tech 93-78 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that season.

Jobe coached former San Antonio Spurs guard Avery Johnson, former coach of the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets and current coach at the University of Alabama, and the late Bobby Phils, who played guard for the Charlotte Hornets.

Jobe, who died March 10, 2017, compiled a 524-333 career record spread among eight teams in 31 seasons.

Barnes, who will receive the Charles “Chuck” Prophet Wagon Master Award, is a native of Meridian, Miss., and has served in various student related capacities at Alcorn State since 1975. He has worked as a Resident Hall Director, Admission Counselor/Recruiter, Director of Admission and Recruiting, Associate Dean of Students, Dean of Students, Deputy Provost for Student Services and Vice President for Student Affairs.

In the athletic arena, Barnes has been Alcorn State’s public-address announcer for its home men’s and women’s basketball games and football games for more than 30 years.  He is affectionately known as the “Voice of the Braves.”

The SWAC Alumni Association will hold its annual Legends Reception on Dec. 1 at the Power Center in Houston, Texas. Donation is $20 and all proceeds go to the SWAC Alumni Degree Completion Scholarship Fund.

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