Alcorn State University men’s basketball coach Davey “The Wiz” Whitney coached at the school for nearly three decades. Whitney led the Braves to a 1980 NCAA tournament win over South Alabama, making it the first HBCU to notch a win in the men’s contest. Whitney died last month in Biloxi, Miss. at the age of 85.
Whitney was born in Midway, Ky. on January 8, 1930. He starred as a high school basketball player in Lexington, playing in the state’s segregated and all-Black sports league. At Kentucky State University, Whitney lettered in basketball, baseball, football, and track. After his 1952 graduation, he starred for the Negro Leagues’ Kansas City Monarchs for two seasons.
Whitney’s coaching career began on the high school level, leading Burt High School in Clarksville, Tenn. For a decade, Whitney led the team to over 200 wins and a 1961 Negro National High School Basketball Championship. Whitney took over coaching duties at Texas Southern in 1964, then took the Alcorn State job in 1969. Whitney coached for 20 straight seasons before he was let go by the school in 1989.
Whitney joined the CBA’s Wichita Falls Texans as an assistant for five years, and the team won the league championship in 1991. In 1996, Whitney returned to Alcorn State where he remained until stepping down in 2003.
Whitney led the Braves to 12 SWAC championships and nine appearances in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Games. Under Whitney, the Braves also appeared in the NIT invitational tournament three times.
The Davey Whitney sports complex, where Alcorn State basketball games are played, opened in 1975.