Dr. Artis Davenport, II
Track and Field Coach
Doing more with so little would be the best way to describe the legacy of Dr. Davenport. In his 42 years as a coach on the collegiate level he won seven national titles, three national runner-up finishes, coached 40 individual track champions and 178 All-Americans. These accomplishments were done without a paid assistant, limited scholarships and virtually no budget. As head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams at Southern University at New Orleans, and with stints at Dillard and Alcorn State, he was named the NAIA National Coach of the Year four times and was selected the top coach nationally three times by the NVAA. Although SUNO is an NAIA institution, the track teams competed primarily against the NCAA Division I schools. The Monroe, La, native received degrees at both Tuskegee Institute and Louisiana State University, he also served in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer.
Davenport went on to be part of the inaugural Hall of Fame Class at Southern University of New Orleans. Here is his bio from the SUNO website:
Under Dr. Davenport, who coached the University’s track and field and cross country programs, SUNO enjoyed multiple championships. Most notable are the men’s outdoor national championships in the NCAA Division III in 1975, 1976, and 1977 as well as the NAIA Division I women’s outdoor national championships in 1995 and 1997 in addition to the women’s indoor championships in 1995 and 1997. Southern University at New Orleans is the only institution in the state of Louisiana to have won national championships in both the NCAA and the NAIA in any sport.
In years that SUNO did not win national championships, the University remained a formidable force on the college track and field scene. The Black Knights (as they were called until the mid-1980’s) finished second in the NCAA Division III outdoor national championship in 1974 and third in 1980 and 1982. The men would later finish second in the NAIA outdoor national championship in 1998. The Lady Knights also achieved success in 1985, winning third place in DIII (outdoor) and finishing fourth in the NAIA in 1994 (outdoor), 1996 (indoor and outdoor).
Under Dr. Davenport’s leadership, SUNO also established a presence in cross country. The University’s teams won the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championships in 1988 and 1989 (men) as well as in 1986, 1988, 1989, and 1990 (women).
During his tenure, Dr. Davenport was named NAIA Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1997. Nearly 100 of SUNO’s runners were named NCAA and NAIA All-Americans under Dr. Daveport, as well.