Former Savannah State University director of athletics Henry “Hank” Ford died on September 10, 2016.
A memorial service was held for Ford on Sept. 24 at Dickerson AME Church in his hometown of Georgetown, South Carolina.
“I’ve known coach Ford and his brother (Jake) since their playing days at Maryland State,” said Claflin athletic director Dr. Jerome Fitch.
“We became close friends when they became coaches. Jake was at Fayetteville State, Hank was at Hampton and I was at Johnson C. Smith,” added Fitch, who like Ford is also a former AD at Savannah State.
Ford, 70, served as the SSU director of athletics from 2001-04. Ford resigned as AD because of health reasons but remained in the athletic department as the assistant for eligibility and compliance, as stated in a release from the university in 2004.
Ford came to Savannah State from Howard University where he had been athletics director from 1996-2000. Prior to taking the position at Howard, Ford was director of athletics for five years at Alfred University.
Ford spent a total of 16 years on the faculty and staff at Hampton University. As the head basketball coach from 1975 until 1987, Ford became the winningest men’s basketball coach in the history of Hampton, with 228 victories. He made the transition from coaching to administration in 1987, serving in a number of capacities including assistant director of athletics, NCAA compliance officer and development officer for athletics.
During his illustrious stint at Hampton, Ford’s teams captured two CIAA tournament championships, winning the crowns in 1982 and 1983. He led the Pirates to 20 or more victories, a total of five times. The best seasons coming in 1981- 82 (28-8), 1978-79 (24-6), 1977-78 (24-7) and 1982-83 (23-7).
Ford was selected the CIAA tournament’s most outstanding coach four times (1979, 1980, 1982 and 1983). In 1980, following a season that saw the Pirates go 21-10, Ford was named NAIA District 19 Coach-ofthe Year.
In 1984 he was inducted into the Maryland Eastern Shore Athletic Hall of Fame for basketball and in 1997, the CIAA inducted Ford into its Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Hampton Hall of Fame in 2009.
Prior to joining Hampton, Ford was an assistant professor and head basketball coach at Tuskegee University from 1973-75. He was also an instructor, basketball and swimming coach at Maryland-Eastem Shore from 1972 until 1973.
After leaving Savannah State, Ford worked at Morehouse as their compliance officer for about 10 years, before retiring in 2014.
Ford graduated from Howard High in 1965 and received a basketball scholarship to Maryland State (now Maryland-Eastern Shore) where he graduated in 1969. He also earned a master’s degree from Indiana University in 1971.
According to his obituary, he was drafted by the Buffalo Braves of the NBA his senior year. After a brief professional career, he got his start in coaching by landing the head boys basketball coaching job at Northampton County High School in Machipongho, Virginia.
“He was a well respected person in athletics. We remained friends for a long time and I will miss him,” said Fitch.