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Rod Broadway’s ‘sons’ at N.C. A&T will miss him

After an undefeated football season and Celebration Bowl title, it’s time for the beloved coach to go fishing

While many college football fans were fixated on the Hall of Fame legacy of Alabama’s Nick Saban, there was another legendary college football coach who made headlines Tuesday.

North Carolina A&T head coach Rod Broadway officially retired after 15 seasons as a head coach with three different historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In the history of Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) play, Broadway has the third-highest winning percentage and has won an HBCU national championship at all three schools where he has coached.

Broadway, 62, retires after an undefeated 12-0 season that resulted in a 2017 Celebration Bowl victory and his second national championship in seven seasons at North Carolina A&T. His undefeated season is the only one in the FCS this season and in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference history. His N.C. A&T record is 59-22; his overall coaching record is 127-45 over 15 seasons.

Before Broadway retired, his .737 winning percentage was the best winning percentage among active FCS coaches. Although Broadway is one of the winningest coaches in college football history, his real success is determined by the impact he has had on his players.

“He’s a father figure away from home. Coming to school and meeting Coach Broadway, he taught me other avenues that maybe my stepdad at home couldn’t teach me,” said Malik Wilson, a redshirt junior wide receiver from Burlington, North Carolina. “A lot of my teammates don’t really have fathers back home, so for them to come to school and get some motivation [from Broadway], it really helps them out, to keep pursuing in school and not to want to give up on themselves.”

NFL draft prospect Brandon Parker, who played under Broadway for four seasons while winning two Celebration Bowl titles, echoed Wilson’s sentiments and said Broadway helped instill in him qualities he’ll take with him on his journey to the professional ranks and throughout life.

“Don’t quit. Things are going to get hard, and nothing in life worth having comes easy,” said Parker, who is a first-team All-American offensive tackle. “He [Broadway] has a willingness to not settle. He’s said multiple times that he is a perfectionist, and he practices what he preaches.”

Wilson said Broadway illustrated dedication and sacrifice that helped establish him as one of the most successful FCS coaches of all time. And, just like any father figure, he taught those same characteristics to his “sons.”

Broadway told the team in a meeting Monday that his decision about retirement came after the Celebration Bowl when reporters were interviewing his son Kenneth. They asked, “What were some of the fondest memories with your dad?” and Kenneth responded, “I’ve never really hung out with my dad like that, he’s always busy with football.”

It is probably safe to presume that the now-retired and soon-to-be Black College Football Hall of Famer will make sure that his son’s memories of his father will be just as great as the memories he’s provided HBCU football fans for the past 15 years. With Broadway’s departure, Sam Washington, assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and secondary coach, will take over as the program’s 19th head football coach.

A Hall of Fame career

1979–1980: East Carolina, defensive line coach (DL)

1981–1994: Duke (DL)

1995–2000: Florida (DL)

2001–2002: North Carolina (DL)

2003–2006: North Carolina Central, head coach (HC)

2007–2010: Grambling (HC)

2011–2018: North Carolina A&T (HC)

Donovan Dooley is a former Rhoden Fellow and a multimedia journalism major from Tuscaloosa, AL. He attends North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University.