NATCHITOCHES – Even as Jerry Pierce’s titles modified and his duties elevated, he remained a relentless presence round Northwestern State athletics.
Pierce, who served NSU in numerous management capacities inside and out of doors athletics, died Tuesday at age 83 after a quick sickness. He had served as govt vice chairman for the previous yr, helping Dr. Marcus Jones, the ninth Northwestern president that benefitted from Pierce’s expertise and information.
Visitation can be from 5-8 p.m. Friday with a 2 p.m. funeral service Saturday at First Baptist Church in Natchitoches, positioned at 508 2nd Street.
Having spent the ultimate 32-plus years of his distinguished Northwestern State profession because the college’s vice chairman of exterior affairs, Pierce’s impact on athletics at his alma mater stayed seen.
“This is a serious loss to the establishment in addition to to Northwestern State athletics,” Jones stated. “Jerry has been part of the material of the establishment because the mid-60s and has executed a lot to additional the establishment and athletics particularly. His impact within the political panorama, larger training and athletics is one thing uncommon, and it is going to be missed.”
Pierce’s affiliation with Northwestern State athletics dated to his undergraduate tenure on the college. A Springhill native, Pierce served as a supervisor/coach underneath legendary NSU soccer coach Jack Clayton earlier than graduating with a journalism diploma in 1961. Including his undergraduate tenure, Pierce was an integral a part of Northwestern State Athletics for 61 years, far surpassing some other tenure inside the division.
After a four-year stint because the assistant state editor, assistant format editor and finally the manager sports activities editor on the New Orleans Times Picayune, Pierce returned to Natchitoches in September 1965 and started a 57-year profession at his alma mater.
Upon his return to Natchitoches, Pierce spent two years because the college’s sports activities data director, re-establishing his deep athletic ties to NSU and the state. He shortly moved up the college’s administrative ladder, remaining concerned in athletics with oversight and administration roles that grew in stature.
From his return to campus in 1965 till Tuesday, Pierce’s imprint and impact on Northwestern State athletics was unending.
“NSU has misplaced one of the enduring and fascinating figures in its 138-year historical past,” stated former NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke, who led the division for greater than 25 years whereas reporting to Pierce. “Jerry was many issues to many individuals – school member, administrator, mentor, orator, author, arbitrator, chief, confidante, humorist, household man and most significantly, a good friend. His affect over time was evident by means of success in so many areas important to the mission of the college, together with fund-raising, athletics and alumni relations to call a couple of. His passing leaves an irreplaceable void at his beloved alma mater.”
The mixture of Pierce and Burke oversaw arguably essentially the most profitable quarter-century run in Northwestern State athletics.
The Pierce-Burke partnership produced 107 NCAA postseason particular person rivals, 94 nationwide awards honoring educational and athletic success, 25 NCAA postseason appearances, 25 Southland Conference championships and 20 Southland Conference Tournament championships.
His affect unfold throughout the panorama of the Southland Conference as soon as NSU entered the league.
“Mr. Pierce was an incredible asset and a go-to for something I wanted perception on inside the UL System or that was percolating within the legislature or wherever on the Louisiana political scene,” stated former Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett, who served in that function from 2002 till earlier this yr. “Jerry was at all times linked and useful to myself, actually. He helped me make some choices in my function as commissioner in a manner that helped the convention. It is a big loss.
“I do not know that we are going to ever see anybody like him once more in that function. We are all higher for having recognized him and for working with him.”
During his tenure as an NSU administrator, Pierce’s worker tree stretched excessive and vast. Among these whose administrative careers introduced them to Natchitoches are present Auburn Director of Athletics John Cohen and Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey.
Cohen acquired his head teaching begin with the NSU baseball program whereas Sankey spent two-and-a-half years (1989-91) in a wide range of roles at Northwestern State. Sankey started his NSU profession as an administrative intern and head golf coach and later grew to become NSU’s first director of compliance and educational companies.
“Jerry was an vital contributor for many years at Northwestern State,” Sankey stated in an announcement. “I loved my relationship with him and admired his longtime service, dedication and dedication to the college. Jerry can be missed however actually can be lengthy remembered.”
While remaining a presence round and within the operation of Northwestern State athletics was a part of his job description, Pierce’s ardour for athletics actually was on show in Prather Coliseum for years.
Pierce, usually cited as the daddy of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, was liable for the creation of the Hall of Fame show in Prather Coliseum in 1972. He was chairman of the LSHOF from 1971-90, when he was promoted from assistant to the president to vice chairman of exterior affairs at NSU.
While these artifacts moved to the palatial Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum in downtown Natchitoches in 2013, Pierce’s contributions didn’t go unnoticed.
In June, Pierce was honored through the 50th anniversary of the Hall’s time in Natchitoches, receiving a standing ovation from the capability crowd on the Natchitoches Events Center. It was a becoming tribute for a person who was named one among 20 athletic directors and coaches named as “Who’s Who In Louisiana Sports” by the Times-Picayune in 1993, standing alongside New Orleans Saints proprietor Tom Benson, LSU director of athletics Joe Dean, then-LSU basketball coach Dale Brown and legendary Grambling soccer coach Eddie Robinson.
“It didn’t take lengthy after arriving in Natchitoches for me to see what Jerry Pierce meant to Northwestern State University and its athletic program,” present NSU Director of Athletics Kevin Bostian stated. “The similar might be stated for what he meant to Natchitoches and to the state of Louisiana as a complete. His impact was indelible and the legacy he left can be felt for a lot of generations.”
During his almost six-decade-long NSU tenure, Pierce helped generations of Northwestern State student-athletes and was a key a part of many milestone moments, together with serving to NSU develop into the primary Louisiana establishment to supply ladies full athletic scholarships in 1975 and paving the best way for the NSU athletic program attain Division I membership two years later.
Pierce earned inclusion within the N-Club Hall of Fame as he was offered the N-Club Leadership Award in 2018.
The award was becoming, given Pierce’s repute throughout campus and the Natchitoches group.
“I might not have been athletic director at Northwestern State if it weren’t for Jerry Pierce,” stated Tynes Hildebrand, a former Demon basketball coach who was NSU’s director of athletics from 1983-96. “He went to (NSU President) Dr. (Joseph) Orze and stated, ‘A.L. Williams is leaving the AD/head soccer coach place to go to Louisiana Tech, and the man that you must rent is Tynes Hildebrand.'”
Hildebrand remained appreciative to his longtime good friend, whom he first crossed paths with “within the early Sixties,” when Pierce labored with Clayton’s legendary NSU soccer groups.
Throughout his 13-year tenure as AD, Hildebrand relied on Pierce as a sounding board and to ship his messages in a concise, direct manner.
“When I had issues, I might go to Jerry,” Hildebrand stated. “All of these years, I might go to Jerry for recommendation as a result of Jerry’s recommendation was at all times good. That was everyone he handled.
“He might advise the presidents nicely. He might advise the VPs nicely. He might advise the ADs very nicely. I might use him quite a bit after I wanted to speak to my coaches. He was excellent with that. I might inform him what I’d like him to speak about and he would ship it in a manner that was very direct however excellent for them.”