Former MVSU Coach Inducted into SWAC Hall of Fame
Story by Roscoe Nance
Trailblazers, record-setters, innovators, are words that embody the legends enshrined in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. Thursday evening, the Hall doors opened to welcome the 2013 class during a reception and induction ceremony at the Westin Hotel in Houston.The 2013 class consists of Reggie Barlow, an All-American wide receiver for Alabama State who is currently head football coach at his alma mater.
Carol Cummings, a record-setting sprinter at Prairie View A&M and a member of the first two SWAC women’s indoor and outdoor championship teams.
Jimmy Jones with Bob Hopkins, an All-American basketball player at Grambling State who led the nation in scoring twice and held the college career scoring record.
Richard Myles, a two-sport All-SWAC performer at Alcorn State who was also a dean’s list student and was named Who’s Who Among College Student-Athletes.Jim Osborne, an All-SWAC defensive tackle at Southern University who played 13 seasons with the Chicago Bears in the NFL.
Charles Ruth, a five-time All-SWAC distance runner at Alcorn State, who coached Mississippi Valley State’s men’s cross country and track and field teams to unprecedented success. Charles Ruth is a classic example of someone who made lemonade after life had given them lemons. Ruth had been an assistant football coach at Mississippi Valley State for 12 years when he reluctantly became an assistant track and field and cross country coach following a shakeup in the athletic department that included head football coach Larry Dorsey being fired.
A short time later, Ruth was named head men’s cross country and track and field coach. He had been an All-SWAC track athlete during his college career at Alcorn State and an assistant for five years to Dr. Grant Dungee, the Braves’ legendary track and field coach before becoming an assistant football coach at Mississippi Valley.
Ruth went on to lead the MVSU track program to unprecedented success during his 10 years at the helm. The Delta Devils were ranked in the top 20 in the NCAA Region twice; he coached 20 athletes who competed in the NCAA Championships and five Delta Devils were named SWAC MVP. His teams won the SWAC All-Academic Award four times and the Delta Devils captured the 2010 NCAA All-Academic Award, making them the first and only HBCU to claim that honor. Ruth was named SWAC Coach of the Year that same season.
“His work ethic, No. 1, is what made him successful,” says University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff director of athletics Lonza Hardy, who as director of athletics at Mississippi Valley made Ruth the men’s cross country and track and field coach. “Nobody could outwork him. You had to pry him away from his office. He was that type of coach. And he was loyal and dedicated. He had good rapport with the student-athletes that he recruited. Track, more so than some other sports, is an individual sport. He knew how to motivate each member of his team.”