John Payton taking on role of special assistant to Lamar athletics director Larry Tidwell
BEAUMONT - Some 55 years after earning All-America recognition as a running back at Prairie View A&M Universuty, John Payton is now poised to pick up the ball and run it for Lamar University as special assistant to Cardinal athletics director Larry Tidwell.
Payton, who spent 13 seasons as an assistant football coach on the staffs of Vernon Glass, Bob Frederick, Larry Kennan and Ken Stephens at Lamar and still remains as an assistant professor in the department of heath and kinesiology, will assist Tidwell as a consultant, a counselor to athletes and coaches and as a public relations representative for the athletic department within the Beaumont and Southeast Texas communities.
"Coach Payton has been a very loyal professor, coach, counselor and leader at Lamar University for 40-plus years, and he represents the Cardinal Nation in a first-class manner each and every day," said Tidwell in making the announcement at a Monday afternoon press conference in the Montagne Center.
"With this designation and recognition from president Dr. James Simmons and myself, Coach Payton will aid the university through many facets that will always have the best interest of the student-athletes first and foremost."Payton's 3,703 career rushing yards remain a Prairie View record, and he also scored 40 rushing touchdowns for the Panthers.
Before joining Glass' Lamar staff in 1970, Payton won state championships as a basketball coach at Woodville Scott High School in 1957 and 1958 and another state title at Beaumont Charlton-Pollard in 1964."I will be more than happy to help Coach Tidwell in any areas in which he asks me to," said Payton, who is a member of the Cardinal Hall of Honor, the Prairie View A&M Athletic Hall of Fame and the Southeast Texas Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
John Payton was elected to serve as the At-Large Representative in November 2005 after serving a previous term as Division I Representative.John began officiating football in 1981.John instructs at Lamar University and is a Lifetime Honorary member of the Southeast Texas Coaches Association.John and his wife Dolly live in Beaumont.
In 1970, John Payton became the first black assistant coach at Lamar University.Payton is still teaching.
BEAUMONT - When John Payton came to Lamar University in 1970 as an assistant football coach, he was more interested in breaking down film than in breaking new ground. "When the job was offered, I was reluctant," Payton said in a telephone interview on Wednesday."I never considered myself to be anything other than a coach.I talked to the athletic director and head coach.I was promised I would get a chance to coach.They didn't lie." Putting his trust in then-athletic director J.B. Higgins and coach Vernon Glass, Payton became the first black assistant coach in Lamar's history.
Payton left the sidelines in 1982, but not the school.He remains a member of Lamar's teaching staff.And now Payton will forever have a place in Cardinal history. Payton was one of six Lamar University Cardinal Hall of Honor inductees announced on Wednesday.
"I was elated that they thought enough of me to put me in the Hall of Honor," Payton said."It's been a while ago." Before coming to Lamar, Payton was an All-American running back at Prairie View A&M.He also coached high school basketball teams at Woodville Scott and Charlton-Pollard to state titles in the late 1950s and early 1960s. When Payton got to Lamar, the coaching part didn't change much.But at least at the onset, the teaching did. "I didn't have trouble with the athletes or the coaching staff," Payton said.
Instead, Payton eventually gave up coaching, but retained his teaching job. "I enjoy teaching students," Payton said."I just feel like my calling was teaching." During his time as an offensive coach for the Cardinals, Payton had some pretty good pupils.Two of them - Haynes and Robinson - will join Payton in the 2004 induction class.
Payton says he especially enjoyed that era of wide-open Lamar football. And one of his biggest disappointments - that there is no new era of the sport for Southeast Texans to enjoy. "I don't think I ever will," said Payton when asked if he could forgive the death of Lamar football in 1989.
John Payton will be inducted in to the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 6 at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Museum in Waco. Payton was the head basketball coach at Woodville and Charlton-Pollard High Schools. Payton, who is a teacher at Lamar University, was inducted into the university's Cardinal Hall of Honor last year.
More than uniforms and formations have been changing over the years, according to John Payton, Lamar University professor of health and kinesiology.His job is teaching students not just about the game plays but game and coaching ethics as well.
"We do have coaching ethics ... to follow the football code," Payton said.
Payton said most of the changes are intended to make the game safer and protect players. "Like the use of a football helmet as a weapon.You notice now players are not allowed to use their helmet to hurt someone ...I don't think in the past they were intending to hurt, with head butting, but there just weren't any rules that said you couldn't," Payton said.
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