In Memoriam: Willie Roy Evans, 1937-2017

Willie Evans, the former president of the University at Buffalo Alumni Association and an athletics legend at the university, died on January 4 from complications after suffering a fall. He was 79 years old.

Evans was a standout running back for the university’s football team. In 1958, Evans led the team to a record of 8-1. The team was awarded the Lambert Cup as the best small football program in the East. The team was selected to appear in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Florida. It was the first time the university had been invited to play in a bowl game. But the Tangerine Bowl Committee told the university that the invitation had one condition; that Evans and the team’s other African American player Mike Wilson, stay home. The team unanimously voted to decline the bowl invitation. It was another half century before the University at Buffalo played in a postseason bowl game.

Evans earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University at Buffalo in 1960 and a master’s degree from Buffalo State College. He taught and coached in the Buffalo public school system and later was director of physical education for the city of Buffalo.

A scholarship given out by the university’s alumni association was renamed to honor Evans in 2009. That year, the entire 1958 football team was awarded the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, the University at Buffalo’s highest honor.

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