‘Man with the golden pen’ writes no more

Longtime Grambling State University Sports Information Director Collie J. Nicholson past away early on Wednesday, September 13. Though he is no longer with us in the physical form his legacy will forever live through the walls of his beloved GSU. For over 30 years, Nicholson gave GSU his all, and it showed.At his funeral Wednesday at St. Matthew A.M.E. Church in Shreveport, the dignitaries on hand were evidence of the high esteem in which Nicholson was held.Former athletes, administrators and journalists spoke highly of the celebrated sportswriter and public relations genius.Nicholson graduated from GSU in 1948 and was shortly after named the university’s first sports information director, making a mere $5 or $10 a week, according to Jane Davis, longtime family friend and spokesperson. Grambling State University was not just a small college in Grambling, La., to Nicholson. “He believed that the students and faculty were capable of doing anything that any other college was doing,” said Carolyn Ensley, longtime friend and co-worker of Nicholson. Nicholson eventually became known as “The Man with the Golden Pen” after he began to find sponsors for games at Yankee Stadium in New York, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, the Houston Astrodome, and the Silverdome in Detroit. In 1974 he also had the game that would become known as the Bayou Classic moved to New Orleans, where it has since become one of the most sought after tickets in college football. Not to mention putting together plans for the Tigers to play games in Japan in the later 1970s. “Since he has left there has not been a SID to promote GSU like him,” Ensley said. “He was the only SID that sold the football players. If a player was graduating, EVERYBODY knew who that player was.”And it showed. Nicholson along with Coach Eddie Robinson sent over 200 players to the NFL. Names like Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to be drafted in the first round; Paul “Tank” Younger, the first black player to play in the NFL from a black college; James Harris, the first African-American to be drafted as a quarterback, Willie Brown; Buck Buchanan; Ernie Ladd and many more were all products of Nicholson’s promotion.Nicholson, originator of the Bayou Classic, was the first African-American Marine war correspondent during World War II.