William Chambers “Red” Myers dies at 86

Posted on September 6, 2012

Visitation will be  at Harley Funeral Home in Greenwood from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, September 8, with burial services to follow at 3 p.m. in the Due West ARP Church Cemetery.

Richard Haldeman, who served as public relations director at Erskine College for many years, submitted the following tribute to “Red” Myers.

William Chambers “Red” Myers, 86, Erskine College basketball coach and athletic director from 1958-83 and a member of the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, died September 4, 2012.

A 1950 graduate of Erskine, where he was president of the student body, he returned to his alma mater first as alumni director and then as basketball coach and athletic director a year later. In 25 years he led to Erskine to a 413-292 record, including six 20-win seasons, two NAIA district championships and berths in the national tournament. He was three times district coach of the year and twice South Carolina coach of the year.

National president of the NAIA in 1989-90, he was a member of the Erskine College, NAIA, and South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, receiving the latter honor in 1992. South Carolina honored him with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor.

One of the most respected basketball coaches in South Carolina and the nation, he was a past president of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). He coached against such legends as Al and Frank McGuire and Lefty Driessel, and among his friends in the profession was UCLA Coach John Wooden, with whom he served many years at the Campbell summer basketball camp.

Before moving to Greenwood in the late 1980s,  Myers was a resident of Due West and member of the Due West ARP Church for almost 30 years. He was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Greenwood at the time of his death. Earlier he had lived seven years in Columbia, where he began his career teacher and coach following his 1950 graduation from Erskine College.

A person of broad interests beyond athletics, he travelled widely both inside and outside the U.S. during and after his coaching career. He was proud of the academic and career successes of his players at Erskine, who had a near 100 percent graduation rate and have careers ranging from teaching and coaching to business, law, medicine, and ministry.

He is survived by his wife, Erskine classmate Marcelline “Mac” Leslie Myers of Greenwood; a son, William C., “Dubby” Myers, Jr. ’73 of Spartanburg; two daughters, Leisa Myers Ingleheart ’78  and Laurie Myers Cordell of Greenwood; and six grandchildren, Weston Myers, Addie Cordell, and Lexie Cordell of Greenwood and Will Myers, Kathryn Myers, and Nick Myers of Spartanburg. He was predeceased by two daughters, including Melissa Myers ’78, and two sisters.

William C. Myers was born February 16, 1926, in St. George, SC. After graduating in 1943 from St. George High School, he served three years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended University of South Carolina in 1946-47 before transferring to Erskine College, where he played three years on the football team and served as president of the student body in 1949-50.

From 1950-57 he taught and served as football and track coach at Dreher High School in Columbia. Both his football and track teams won two state championships.

He returned to Erskine as alumni director in 1957, helping to establish the college’s award-winning annual campaign. When Gene Alexander accepted a position at Wofford in 1958, Mr. Myers succeeded him as athletic director and basketball coach, though he had not previously coached basketball. After an initial losing season, his teams annually competed for the championship of the NAIA’s strongest district, made up of teams now competing mainly in NCAA Division I.

He led his 1974 and 1978 teams  into the NAIA National Tournament with District Six championships in 1974  and 1978. His 1978 team advanced  to the second round of the tournament before losing in overtime. He was district coach of the year in 1964, 1974, and 1978 and South Carolina coach of the year in 1974 and 1978. Earlier this year he and Lander’s Finish Horne were named all-time coaches in the former NAIA District Six.

The “Red” Myers Court was dedicated at Erskine in 2009. Myers, pictured in front row, third from left, was honored during the ceremony.

In 1968 he served on the U.S. Olympic basketball committee in Colorado Springs and at the Olympics in Mexico City.  He led NAIA’s developmental  program in Australia from 1979-82.  After retiring from Erskine for health reasons in 1983, he became assistant coach at Lander University from 1985-91. Earlier this year he and Lander’s Finis Horne were named all-time leading coaches in the former NAIA District Six.

He concluded his coaching career as a part-time assistant to the late Robbie Hicklin at Erskine in 1991-92, helping the Fleet to a 27-7 record and quarterfinal finish in the NAIA National Tournament.  He was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.

As athletic director at Erskine he saw the college’s program grow from three men’s team to four men’s and four women’s teams. He accompanied the softball team to the 1981 NAIA National Tournament, where it finished fifth out of 14 teams. The men’s soccer team, established in 1966, advanced to the NAIA Nationals six times during his tenure and the men’s tennis team played in the 1971 nationals.