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Joe Williams, Former Jacksonville Title-Game Coach, Dies At 88

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams, the coach who led Artis Gilmore and tiny Jacksonville University to the 1970 NCAA Tournament championship game against UCLA, died Saturday. His age was 88.

After a lengthy battle with cancer, Joe Williams, who coached at Furman and Florida State, passed away in Enterprise, Mississippi, while receiving hospice care, his son Joe Williams Jr. said.

The Dolphins were a true Cinderella team in the NCAA Tournament. As a team led by the 7-foot-2 Gilmore, they defeated Western Kentucky, Iowa, Kentucky, and St. Bonaventure on their way to the championship. The team scored over 100 points 18 times that season, including three times in the tournament.

They faced a Bruins team whose coach John Wooden was at the height of his dynasty. UCLA won its sixth national championship in seven years with an 80-69 victory.

In 1964, Joe Williams took over the Jacksonville program as an assistant coach at Furman, and Jacksonville played one more season in the NAIA before moving to the NCAA.

Gilmore enrolled at Joe Williams and Jacksonville after playing his first two seasons in junior college.

His son said Williams recruited Black players to Southern colleges when many other coaches did not and protected them in hostile environments on the road.

He was among the first coaches in the South to do that. Joe Williams Jr. said that when dad traveled with the team if a restaurant wouldn’t let the whole team eat together, he packed up everyone and went to one where they could,” he said.

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Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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