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Former Morgan State coach, player James Phillips dies at 75

Phillips died July 22, 2019 after battling with an extended illness. He is survived by his wife, Rosetta, his children Althea Menard, Craig Mitchell, Natalie Phillips, Lorri Phillips Murray, Anita Phillips and James Phillips, III, along with 19 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. James 'Phil' Venus Phillips known to his teammates as 'Tex' came to Morgan from Kashmere Garden High School in Houston, Texas in 1963. Phil was known by his coaches as the other guard for the offensive line which was anchored on the other side by NFL Hall of Famer, Willie Lanier. Phil, who was outstanding in his own right on Coach Earl Banks' teams, was a tough, knock-down, aggressive, drag-out-type of player, giving 110% every time he stepped on the field of play. He was a leader who loved the game of football and was dedicated to the game, his teammates and his coaches. During his four-year undergraduate career, Phillips was involved in only one loss. He played in the famous 1966 Tangerine Bowl, when Morgan State became the first HBCU team to play in a major NCAA bowl game defeating West Chester State 14-6 with only 22 players. Phil was drafted by the Chicago Bears and played with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League for three years. In 1970 Coach Phillips returned to his alma mater to become an assistant football coach under his mentor, Earl Banks. During his 25 years as a Morgan State football coach, Coach Phillips graduated many all-conference linemen into the NFL ranks. Coach Phillips became Morgan State University's head football coach from 1983 and 1984. James was most proud of being the Morgan State head wrestling coach in 1975. He was known nationally for wearing his leopard skin vest to every wrestling match. He guided the Bears to 13 MEAC wrestling championships from 1975 to 1994. Under his helm, over 75 wrestlers were named All-Americans and five earned NCAA Division II National titles. He earned MEAC Outstanding Coach accolade 12 times and was the only head wrestling coach from a Historical Black College or University (HBCU) to host a NCAA Eastern Wrestling Regional in 1984 and the NCAA Division II National Championship in 1985. He coached several outstanding nationally ranked wrestlers such as: John Davis, two-time, Division II National Champion; William 'Bucky' Smith, National Division II Champion and runner-up in the Division I National Championship. John Veal and Greg Green, were also National Division II Champions. Coach Phillips was an active member of the Morgan State Varsity 'M' Club. Coach Phillips received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Master's degree both from Morgan State University. Phillips retired from Morgan State in 2004 after serving for more than 30 years as an assistant professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Before his passing this past week, Coach Phillips lived with his wife Rosetta in Orlando, Florida. ABOUT MORGAN

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