By John Marcase/For the LSWA
PINEVILLE — Funeral services celebrating the life and impact of Louisiana College coaching legend Billy Allgood, a 1999 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductee, will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Alexandria with Dr. Chris Thacker officiating.
Allgood, 87, of Pineville passed away at his home Wednesday surrounded by his family.
Arriving at LC in 1959 as basketball coach and assistant football coach, Allgood coached the Wildcats basketball team until 1985. He coached LC’s baseball team even longer, from 1965 to 1998. He led both sports to NAIA national tournament berths.
Allgood was also athletic director for 31 years.
Visitation for Coach Allgood will be held Friday from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. at Hixson Brothers in Pineville, and from 9 a.m. until the time of the service on Saturday. Interment will be in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Ball.
Former LC basketball player Drexel Robinson will share a testimony on this legendary coach’s impact. Pallbearers will be his former basketball and baseball players from Louisiana College.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks memorials be made to the Louisiana Special Olympics, 1000 East Morris Ave., Hammond, LA, 70403.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Francis Irene Allgood; son Duke Allgood and wife, Sissy, daughter Pam Hancock and husband, Lee; grandchildren Michael Allgood and wife, Kaci, Katy Jackson and husband, Jim, and Spencer Hancock; and great grandchildren Jackson, Piper and Will Allgood. He is also survived by an aunt, Edna Paige.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Elton Allgood and Bernice Frazier, and a brother, J.E. Allgood.
A native Mississippian, Allgood was born in Jackson. He later attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where he was a four-year letterman in basketball from 1949-53. During his collegiate career, he helped Southern Mississippi to a 96-37 record, two Gulf States Conference regular-season championships and two appearances in the NAIA National Tournament.
As a senior, he led USM to a 27-8 record and quarterfinal appearance in the NAIA Tournament. Among his more notable accomplishments with the Golden Eagles, he set a school record for most fouls committed in a career, including 124 as a sophomore when he fouled out of 13 games. In addition to being the team’s best defender, he also led the team in assists. Allgood also played baseball at Southern Miss.
The school inducted him into its Sports Hall of Fame on April 28, 1979.
It would not be the only Hall of Fame to honor Allgood, only the first.
He began his coaching career on the high school level in his native state. After six seasons at Meridian High School, which included a state title in basketball, Louisiana College president G. Earl Guinn hired Allgood to be the school’s basketball coach in 1959, as well as an assistant football coach.
It proved to be a great hire as Allgood would go on to win 327 games as LC’s men’s basketball coach, ranking him among the winningest in state history at the time of his retirement. He also brought his winning ways to the baseball program after being named coach in 1969. In 1965, he was also named the school’s athletic director.
Despite the numerous roles, Allgood always fielded teams that could compete on any level, drawing the respect of his coaching peers from throughout the state and the country.
“The rest of us had the opportunity to coach just basketball but he wore a lot of hats,” once said the late Louisiana Tech and NBA coach Scotty Robertson, a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member. “Billy was an excellent coach. He did more with less than the rest of us in the state of Louisiana.”
“He is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever faced,” said the late Louisiana-Monroe coach Lenny Fant, also a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member whom Allgood replaced as LC’s coach. “He was just tough to beat no matter who he put out there.”
Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Don Haskins found that out when Allgood coached LC to an upset of his Texas-El Paso team in 1977.
Allgood struck up a friendship with another Naismith Hall of Famer, Western Kentucky’s Ed Diddle, during the Wildcats’ annual trips to Kentucky in the 1960s. Kentucky basketball icon Adolph Rupp respected the coaching of Allgood enough to commit to bringing his Wildcats to face LC to help the school open H.O. West Fieldhouse in 1965. Unfortunately, the game was never played as a delay in construction forced Rupp to back out of the game.
Allgood’s 1969-70 team was the first in school history to win 20 games, but that team’s biggest impact was helping break the color barrier in Louisiana when LC beat Grambling State, 71-52, on Feb. 5. It marked the first time a predominantly white school in Louisiana had played a predominantly black school.
The 1978-79 team became the first in school history to reach the NAIA National Tournament.
Other schools tried to lure Allgood away, including LSU and athletic director Jim Corbett in 1966, but he remained faithful to LC.
Allgood retired as basketball coach in 1985, athletic director in 1996 and baseball coach in 1998 to end 39 years of service to Louisiana College. His retirement wouldn’t last long as he later became the basketball and baseball coach and athletic director at the Avoyelles Public Charter School in Mansura.
While he was best known as a basketball coach, he also left his mark as baseball coach. He literally built Billy Allgood Field, while also leading the Wildcats to an NAIA national tournament berth.
Perhaps his greatest coaching victory came in baseball on March 15, 1994, when the Wildcats upset defending national champion LSU, 7-5. It was the first time an NAIA school had beaten a reigning NCAA Division I national champion.
Allgood was twice named the NAIA District 30 Coach of the Year in basketball. In 1986, he was named “Mr. Louisiana Basketball” by the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches. The LABC inducted Allgood into its Hall of Fame in 1990.
He was also a charter member of the Louisiana College Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, and he’s been inducted in the Louisiana Senior Olympics Hall of Fame as a basketball player.
His highest professional honor came in 1999 when he was elected to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame as the first representative from Louisiana College.
But Allgood’s legacy is more than wins and losses.
It’s the men he coached and the students he taught who went to become productive members of society as educators, coaches, lawyers, doctors, law enforcement officers and pastors.
It’s the numerous baseball fields he helped build throughout Louisiana for his former players who had gone into coaching. It’s the Habitat-for-Humanity houses he helped build, and the numerous other projects he helped with whether it was for friends or strangers.
“I guess not at one time in all the years I’ve known him, did I think Billy Allgood was not going by the rules,” said former Northwestern State coaching rival Tynes Hildebrand, another Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member. “I think if there is one thing that speaks well of someone, that’s it.
“We probably won’t ever see someone like him come along again. I don’t think there will ever be another Billy Allgood and that’s a shame. Young people need Billy Allgood for a role model,” Hildebrand added.
Perhaps Allgood’s most famous saying was “I’d sell every one of those wins to get people to do what they’re capable of. I didn’t want to coach blue-chip athletes. I’d rather coach blue-chip people.”
Allgood was an active member of Emmanuel Baptist Church and former longtime member of First Baptist Church in Pineville, where he was a faithful member of LC biology Professor C.J. Cavanaugh’s Sunday school class.