Davey L. Whitney (1930-2015)

whitney2Davey “The Wiz”Whitney, an influential American Basketball coach, was born January 15, 1930, in Lexington, Kentucky, to parents Albert Whitney Sr. and Elizabeth Whitney.   Mr. Whitney coached Alcorn St. to the first NCAA tournament win ever by an historically black university with a 70-62 victory over South Alabama in 1980.  Coach Whitney is first on the all time wins list at Alcorn St., and is second on the all time wins list in HBCU basketball history with 562 wins.  Prior to his basketball coaching career, Coach Whitney played baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Historic Negro Leagues.

Coach Whitney was a standout athlete in multiple sports growing up. Although baseball was his first love early on, he was really good at basketball too.  Coach Whitney attended Kentucky State starting in 1948.  He lettered in four sports, and won numerous awards for his play in baseball and basketball.

Coach Whitney started his professional baseball career the night of his high school graduation in 1952.  His first year in the Negro whitneyDLeagues, he played shortstop, and batted .300 for the Kansas City Monarchs.  His career was halted after two years, due to a stint in the Army.  He was eager to continue his professional career after he left the service, but a financial dispute with Monarchs management, led Coach Whitney to quit the game he loved.

Coach Whitney became a high school basketball coach shortly after.  He took a job in Clarksville, Tennessee and won 270 games in nine years.  He coached his team to the All National Negro Tournament title one season and finished second and third there in two other years.  His success found him an opportunity at the collegiate level.

Coach Whitney took a job at Texas Southern University, located in Houston, Texas.  His time at TSU which started in 1964 did not go well, due to the fact that they were not able to provide the funding necessary to have a good team.  After five years Coach Whitney left TSU, to accept an offer to coach at Alcorn St. University.

Using the local talent the state of Mississippi provided as his foundation, Coach Whitney was able to compile over 508 wins and 12 conference championships during his two stints at Alcorn State from 1969 to 1989 and again from 1996 to 2003.  Whitney won 9 Southwestern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year awards while at Alcorn.

His legacy was solidified in the 1979 season when he led the Alcorn State Braves to a come from behind win over Mississippi State in the National Invitational Tournament’s opening round.  A year later, Coach Whitney and his Braves beat South Alabama in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. That was the first time ever that a team from a Historically Black College or University would win an NCAA Tournament game.  Coach Whitney would go on to win two more tournament games during his career and pushed the likes of Georgetown, Kansas, and Stanford to the limits.  Coach Whitney was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.  He was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

Davey Whitney died at his home in Biloxi, Mississippi on May 10, 2015 at the age of 85.  Coach Whitney is survived by his wife, Bernice Thomas Whitney; one son, Dave Whitney, Jr.; four daughters, Gail and Libby Whitney, Lisa Mcghee, and Doreen Whitney.

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