Funeral services will be held for Collie J. Nicholson Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. at the St. Matthew A.M.E. Church in Shreveport.
A public viewing will be held Tuesday, Sept. 19 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Winnfield Funeral Home at 3701 Hollywood Ave. in Shreveport.
Nicholson was the Grambling sports information director who helped make coach Eddie Robinson’s football program internationally famous. He died early Wednesday at the age of 85.
Nicholson died at home in Shreveport after a prolonged illness, said family friend and spokeswoman Jane Davis.
“His wife, son and daughter were with him,” Davis said.
Nicholson brought the art of promotion to Grambling State University _ a traditionally black school in north Louisiana _ long before most colleges even thought of it.
Nicholson brought to Grambling the concept of the `classic’ game _ having the team and marching band travel to major American cities.
To orchestrate one such game at Yankee Stadium in the 1960s, Nicholson had to sell the concept to the Urban League and the Yankees, remembered Doug Porter, an assistant coach at Grambling for nine years.
“They weren’t too excited about the idea,” Porter said. “But Collie was so confident they had to be. He told them, ‘You may not have confidence in your organization, but I have all the confidence in the world in Grambling and its ability to be a success.’ “
Nicholson and Robinson also established the Bayou Classic rivalry game against Southern University, which remains a tradition and a moneymaker for both schools.
“When you talk about Grambling athletics, most people say Coach Eddie,” said former Grambling and NFL quarterback Doug Williams. “But we all know, especially those that went to Grambling back in the day, that you should say Eddie and Collie. They were the ones that put it out there for the world to see.”
Nicholson also took Grambling football international, arranging two games in Japan in the late 1970s.
“Here I was a kid from little old Zachary playing in Japan, Hawaii, Washington D.C.,” Williams said. “And it was all because of Collie’s mighty pen.”
“I would like to be remembered as someone who tried to find a way to fit the Grambling program into the general marketplace,” Nicholson told The (Monroe) News-Star in 2003. “I’ve tried my best to do that.”
The University of Louisiana System Board, which oversees Grambling, approved a plan in May to rename the Robinson Stadium press box after Nicholson. He was to be honored during GSU’s first home game Oct. 21.
Collie J. Nicholson was the person who invented the Bayou Classic. It is was he is best known, and something that spotlights Grambling State University very year.
Collie J. Nicholson was the first Black Marine Corps’ reporter. He achieved the honor during World War II.
The first Bayou Classic was held in Shreveport. It moved to New Orleans the next year and to the Superdome the year after that. 2005 was the first time it was not played in the dome.
Nicholson also took Gramblling’s football l team to Japan in the 1970s.
Associated Press contributed to this story