WSSU hires Bill Hayes as athletics director

Bill Hayes is coming home to Winston-Salem State, this time to be the university's director of athletics.

Chancellor Donald Reaves announced the hiring Thursday in a meeting with the executive committee of the school's board of trustees and later shared the news with WSSU's coaches.

Hayes, 64 and currently the AD at Florida A&M, will replace Chico Caldwell as the fulltime AD and will start work Jan. 1.

Hayes first came to Winston-Salem in the early 1970s, working under Coach Chuck Mills at Wake Forest as one of the first black assistant football coaches in the ACC.

Hayes became the football coach at WSSU in 1976 and turned a doormat program into one of the most dominant in CIAA history. He coached the Rams for 12 seasons, compiling a record of 89-40-2, and the Rams finished at .500 or better 10 times.

Hayes had two of the best teams in CIAA history in 1977 and '78. The Rams, quarterbacked by current head coach Kermit Blount, finished unbeaten in back-to-back regular seasons and ended each season with an 11-1 record.

Hayes left WSSU for N.C. A&T in 1987 and in 15 seasons there became the program's career leader in victories. He was forced out at A&T after the 2002 season and moved into athletics administration, first at his alma mater, N.C. Central, and for the last two years at Florida A&M. He announced his resignation as Florida A&M's AD last month.

Hayes will work under a three-year contract at WSSU, for about $130,000 a year, Reaves said. By state law, Hayes will have to give up his retirement stipend from the state of North Carolina before he can start being paid by WSSU. Even though Hayes left Winston-Salem, years ago, he and his wife still own a house here.

Although many WSSU alumni know the name Bill Hayes, Hayes might not have an easy time bring together a divided alumni base. The school stopped a costly four-year transition to Division I on Sept. 11, and that decision has been the subject of debate.

Some alumni and fans say that the school should have continued its move to Division I and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Others are excited about staying in Division II and returning to the CIAA.

One of Hayes' first orders of business could be Blount's future. Blount is in his 17th season as WSSU's head coach, having survived three chancellors and three athletics directors, and has a year left on his contract. However, the Rams are 1-6 heading into Saturday's homecoming game against Hampton.

Blount, 51, surpassed Hayes as WSSU's career leader in wins last season and has a 91-83-3 record with two CIAA titles. When asked earlier this week, Blount said he wasn't concerned about his future, only about Saturday's game.

Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, a former basketball star at WSSU and in the NBA and one of WSSU's most recognizable alumni, is in town this week for homecoming. He says the move to hire Hayes is a good one.