Savannah State has fielded sports teams and promoted extracurricular activities since its inception.
In 1921, the university won the state championship in football under the guidance of Coach Waters. The Willcox-Wiley Physical Education Complex, opened in 1936, was known to be the best indoor basketball facility in the state and hosted a high school tournament each spring. Students from Augusta, Atlanta, Macon and beyond attended.
Ted Wright came to Savannah State in 1947 and developed the university’s first varsity track and field team. He also coached the men’s basketball team to 10 conference championships between 1948 and 1962. Savannah State is now home to 15 men’s and women’s teams that compete in NCAA Division I, including tennis, cheerleading, golf, football and basketball.
Savannah State wasn’t only known for its talent on the field.
In its early days, Savannah State also built on the school’s reputation as an agricultural college. President Wright led an initiative to host a state fair. The group, known as the Georgia State Colored Agricultural and Industrial Association, was founded in 1906 and sponsored the annual demonstration. It was an immediate success. Shareholders were paid 5 percent dividends the first year.
Savannah State — then Georgia State Industrial College — sent delegates and projects from the agricultural, sewing and industrial departments, including wagons and buggies, shows, suits, brickwork and produce.
These and hundreds of other efforts served to enrich the education and lives
of the students and the surrounding community.
This story first appeared in Impressions, Fall 2015