There aren’t many annual events in the Washington, D.C. area that outrank Howard University’s homecoming on the “places to be” list. From high profiled figures to average everyday D.C. natives, they all want to be present at Howard’s Greene Stadium for the homecoming football game, along with all of the other festivities planned in celebration of one of the most premiere Black educational institutions in the world.
But of the many people who may have been intimately part of an HU homecoming game, one person has been a fixture at every single Howard game for nearly three decades and few people have any idea who he is -- Edward Hill, Jr.
Hill is the sports information director (SID) for Howard University, and has handled sports information for the Bison since 1983, taking the official title of SID in 1986. To the typical Howard sports follower, he may be nothing more than the guy who collects the stats and posts the recaps of each game. But in his field, he’s a pure legend.
Hill’s commitment to Howard University sports is unmatchable. When Howard takes on Morgan State on Oct. 20 in its 88th homecoming football game, it will be the 313rd consecutive HU football game Hill has worked.
Only one other HBCU sports information director can claim to have served longer than Hill as sports information director at an HBCU and that’s Bill Hamilton at South Carolina State University. With Hamilton’s announcement this summer that he will be retiring from his position in 2013, Hill will be the new dean of HBCU SIDs.
“It never really felt like a job for me because I’ve always been so passionate about sports and this job has always offered so much fun and excitement,” said Hill, who was honored by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) in 2009 when he was in his 25th year as an SID. He is currently one of only two Black members of the board of directors of CoSIDA, the umbrella organization for the nation’s college sports information directors.
Before arriving at Howard, Hill told the AFRO he served as a sports writer for the Winston-Salem Chronicle and the Black College Sports Review. The Wilmington, N.C. native told the AFRO that he landed at Howard through a colleague, Ricky Clemons, who was hired as Howard’s SID and asked Hill to come serve as an assistant. When Clemons left Howard to take a job with the 1984 Olympics, Hill replaced him as the interim SID.
Hill said at first thought, he never actually considered holding a public relations title; but with his love for sports combined with his love for D.C., he wound up sticking around for nearly 30 years.
“The interesting part about this job is that you meet so many people, various players and coaches and figures from all over the world, and it’s really amazing just to be able to connect with so many people,” said Hill, who moved to the District in 1963. “I’ve been able to collect so many memories here that I’m sure there are moments, so many great moments, that I probably can’t even remember them all.”
Hill told the AFRO that one of his fondest memories is when Jay “Sky” Walker first arrived at Howard. Walker currently serves as a member of Maryland House of Delegates, but he first came to the area as the quarterback for Howard’s football team.
“I remember Jay transferred to us from Long Beach State in 1992,” Hill said. “We were a losing ball club at that point, but as soon as Jay got here, he rallied the entire team and had them practicing all summer and the next year, we went undefeated with an 11-0 record with Walker as our leader.”
Another memorable moment for Hill was when former NFL MVP quarterback Steve “Air” McNair, who attended Alcorn State University, faced off against Walker in a Howard home game in 1993. Hill invited famous sports columnist Mike Wilbon to attend the game as both McNair and Walker put on a passing circus for the fans. After the game, on the nationally televised show Sports Reporters, Wilbon hailed both players’ performances, which may have led to both players being drafted into the NFL.
Hill said it’s moments like that offer the greatest reward for his service, but the people who have worked with him say their reward is simply being able to connect with such a positive, hard working person.
“Ed is a genuine human being, aside from his expertise in sports information,” Delaware State SID Dennis Jones told the AFRO. “He’s one of the most respected figures in our field in the country, but what sticks out the most is how he relates to people.
“You have to deal with so many people and he does all of that with a great deal of charm and skill. He’s a role model about how to go about this job. This is a demanding job, as you can imagine with most games always on the weekend and even throughout the weekday yet he always finds a way to give back to the community and to the profession. I admire him so much.”