Coach Jerry C. Johnson
Coach Johnson has been called a “sideline legend.” And some say Jerry Johnson teaches “old school” basketball. In fact, Johnson learned the game from John McClendon who learned it from James Naismith, the inventor of the game.
Coach Johnson retired in 2005 after coaching 46 years for LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, TN. At 97 years young, his accomplishments and honors are numerous. In his illustrious career, he has to his credit, the 1975 NCAA Division III Championship, five SIAC Championships, five Championship titles in the former Volunteer State Athletic Conference plus many NCAA regional playoffs. Johnson was ranked first among active NCAA Division II coaches with 821 wins in 46 seasons and is one of just six NCAA men’s basketball coaches who have won more than 800 games at the time of his retirement. Through the years, Coach Johnson was named VSAC “Coach of the Year” four consecutive years (1971 through 1974) and SIAC “Coach of the Year” in 1999, 2000 and 2005. He was inducted to the Fayetteville State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 and to the SIAC Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.
In 2005, upon his retirement, the Memphis City Council named “Jerry C. Johnson” Street, he received the keys to the City of Memphis (February), he received the keys to Lemoyne-Owen College (April) and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the City of Memphis (June).
Maybe the most lasting legacy Coach Johnson will leave is the actual men he’s taught and coached. From his teams, there have been eight NBA players, numerous high school or junior high school coaches, college coaches, high school principals, a city councilman, and the first elected African American Mayor of Memphis.