Former JSU men’s basketball coach, athletic director Paul Covington dies at age 86

Paul Covington, the winningest head coach for men’s basketball in Jackson State University history, has died.

Jackson State associate athletic director Dennis Driscoll said Covington passed away Sunday after losing his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 86 years old.

Jackson State vice president and athletic director Ashley Robinson said Covington was an influential coach who will be missed.

“Coach Covington was a trailblazer and helped set the foundation for the JSU men’s basketball program and the athletic department,” he said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Covington family in this difficult time.” 

Covington, a Kentucky native and Jackson State alumnus, was part of the men’s basketball team during his college days, and played for the first team in the All Mid-Western Basketball Conference in 1955 and 1956. He made his way back to Jackson State in 1964 when he was named assistant head coach of the men’s basketball program, and was named head coach in 1967.

He went on to coach the Tigers for 19 years with a career record of 338-195, including four outright Southwestern Athletic Conference championship titles in 1970, 1974, 1975 and 1982. Jackson State shared championship titles with Alcorn State University in 1968 and Grambling State University in 1964. Covington was named SWAC Coach of the Year five times during his tenure and was ranked No. 1 nationally in the NCAA Division II poll in 1975.

He retired as head coach in 1986, but then became an assistant athletic director until 1995, when was named athletic director for the university. He served in the post until his formal retirement in 1999.

Covington was inducted into the Jackson State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988, the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

Contact Keisha Rowe at nrowe@gannett.com, on Twitter or at (601) 760-2483.