Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association

Livingstone College inducts 10 into Hall of Fame

June 25, 2002

Salisbury N.C. ­– Livingstone College will induct 10 athletes into its Athletic Hall of Fame Friday and Saturday, June 28 and 29, at Ballantyne Resort and Spa in Charlotte. They will join members of the Livingstone College football team that participated in the first black college football game in 1892.

After a silent auction Friday, Morris Wiggins, Alfred Tyler, Romus Jefferies, Larry Melton, Johnny Miller, Larry Lee, Dr. Beverly Downing, Joseph White, Darryl Ardrey and Ben Coates will be inducted during a special ceremony and dinner gala, followed by a presidential reception.

Saturday, guests have the opportunity to golf a few rounds with some celebrity athletes during a special golf tournament or spend a day with the college’s president, Dr. Algeania Freeman, being pampered at the resort’s spa.

Proceeds from all the events will go to support Livingstone’s athletic program.

The Livingstone College alumni who will be inducted into the hall of fame are:
Morris Wiggins, ’62: A native of Rocky Mount, NC, and a long-time resident of Salisbury, Morris Wiggins, while playing for the Livingstone College football team, became one of the first in the institution’s history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He went on to serve his alma mater for more than 24 years in various capacities including coach, athletic director, residence life director, acting Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Recreation – a position he occupied for 15 years. Under his direction, the Blue Bear Golf team won the 1988 CIAA Championship and the 1988 Minority College Golf National Championship.

Alfred Tyler, ’67: Alfred Tyler is a native of Clifton Forge, Va., and a resident of Washington, D.C. In 1966, he led the nation in passing with a record of 2,499 passing yards and 29 passing touchdowns. He passed for 4,630 yards and 54 touchdowns during his college career. Alfred is ranked Livingstone’s All-Time Leading Passer and led the nation’s small colleges in total offense his senior year. He signed with Montreal of the Canadian Football League and later played with the Washington Redskins Farm Team for four years. Not only has Tyler been player and coach, but he also referees basketball and football. His jersey, number 17 was retired in 1967 and in 1989 he was inducted into the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame.

Romus Jefferies, ’71: Salisbury’s own Romus Jefferies earned a number of honors playing football at Livingstone College including being named the 1970 Coca-Cola Golden Helmet Award winner. The Buffalo Bills drafted him after he was graduated from the college. After a short career with the NFL team, Jefferies went on to serve as a recreation specialist in the Michigan State School System. He completed the Minority Franchise Program for Hardee’s Food Systems Inc. in 1990 and returned to his hometown in 1995 to become owner of a local Hardee’s. Jefferies continues to support the Blue Bear Athletic Department.

Larry Melton, ’72: Larry Melton, a native of Washington, D.C., and currently a Charlotte resident, was a four-year letterman named Most Outstanding Freshman and Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman for two years. For the past 25 years, Melton has been in the insurance business and owns L. D. Melton Financial Services. Melton is a member of the Livingstone College Board of Trustees and the Greater Enrichment Program, is the Chairman of the Gethsemane AME Zion Church and is a member of the Joseph Price Heritage Society. Melton has been listed in Who’s Who Among Life Insurance Professionals and is a charter member of HVO Optimist Club.

Larry Lee, ’76: Born in Statesboro, Ga., Larry Lee grew up in Fort Pierce, Fla., and was graduated from Fort Pierce Central High School in 1972. Lee enrolled at Livingstone and, in 1974, was named All-CIAA Conference Linebacker. After being graduated from Livingstone in 1976, Lee was drafted by the Denver Broncos. When his career with the Broncos ended, he began teaching, coaching and counseling at Screven County High School in Sylvania, Ga., Fort Pierce High School and Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce. Lee began counseling in a different capacity when he opened his own State Farm Insurance Agency branch in 1988. For nine years Lee qualified for State Farm’s Million Dollar Club and was featured in the company’s national campaign advertisement in 1992. Lee continues to serve his alma mater and community by serving on a number of boards and committees including the Livingstone College Board of Visitors.

Dr. Beverly Downing, ’78: Dr. Beverly Downing will be inducted into the Livingstone athletic hall of fame for her career as a Lady Blue Bear. The Washington, D.C. native who now lives in Raleigh, Downing led the efforts to begin Livingstone’s first women’s softball team. She went on to earn All-CIAA awards in basketball and softball. Downing earned All-State and Homerun Awards while playing Class A softball in the Amateur Softball Association and the United States Specialty Sports Association. However, Downing turned down a career as professional athlete to advance her education. She earned a master’s degree from Hampton University – where she started the first softball team that went on to score the Virginia AIAW runner-up title -- and a doctorate from Middle Tennessee University. Downing has numerous awards and honors as a player, coach and academic administrator. As a coach at St. Augustine’s, she earned seven Coach of the Year honors for women’s basketball and softball. She also served as an assistant coach to the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival Silver Medal winning basketball team.

Joseph “Jo Jo” White, ’83: A Southport, NC native and Leland resident, Joseph White was gifted both on the field and in the classroom while he attended Livingstone. White, who was graduated from Livingstone with two bachelor’s degrees, was voted the Blue Bears Most Outstanding Offensive Back in football and was the recipient of the Baxter Holman Memorial Award – the highest academic award for running track. The Sheridan Broadcasting Network and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics District 26 named him All-American in 1982 and 1983. Additionally, White was the 1982 and 1984 CIAA Athlete of the Year and earned the CIAA Offensive Player of the Year in 1983. He signed with the Tampa Bay Bandits football team of the United States Football League in 1985. Later, his jersey, number 24, was retired. White, who also holds a master’s degree from North Carolina A&T State University, has served as head softball coach and assistant football and basketball coach for Livingstone.

Darryl Ardrey: Darryl Ardrey will be inducted into the hall of fame for football posthumously. A native of Charlotte, Ardrey died during his senior year at Livingstone in 1994. His jersey, number five, was retired a week later and his mother, Gwendolyn Ardrey Perry, accepted his degree during the 1994 commencement ceremony. Ardrey is ranked second in Livingstone’s history in career passing yards with 4,455. He holds top ranks in career passing attempts and completions. He holds the record for single game passing touchdowns – six against North Carolina Central.

Ben Coates, ’98: Before he went all the way to the Super Bowl as tight end with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000, Ben Coates, a native of Greenwood, SC, and current resident of Concord, made his mark as a Livingstone Blue Bear. Coates was the recipient of the Livingstone Baxter Holman Memorial and S.W. Lancaster awards. In 1991, the New England Patriots drafted Coates with their second pick in the fifth round of the NFL draft. He emerged as the premier tight end in the league in 1994 and was awarded first-team All-Pro honors for setting a new NFL record for receptions by a tight end with 96. He also had 1,174 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Coates led the AFC in receptions and was the second most in the Patriots history. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1990s. Having played in five Pro-Bowl games, the Livingstone alum made his first of two Super Bowl appearances with the New England Patriots in 1996 and with the winning Baltimore Ravens in 2000. Now the Blue Bears offensive coordinator, Coates has played in 158 professional games with 499 receptions for 5,555 yards.

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