NCAA Soccer Champions Howard University: The Triumphs and Tribulations of Reclaiming a Historic National Title



Seium, Michael

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This thesis looks into Howard University’s 1971 and 1974 NCAA soccer championships under the leadership of Coach Lincoln Phillips in a sport traditionally not popular among Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The collegiate soccer world was shocked when Howard University won the 1971 NCAA title by defeating a privileged powerhouse, Saint Louis University. Filled with principally European descendant players, the Billikens of Saint Louis had dominated college soccer since official NCAA records began to be managed for the sport in the mid-1960s. Howard’s struggles were not on the soccer field alone, but also confronting the NCAA’s sometimes unchallenged behavior during the height of the civil rights movement. Coached by Lincoln Phillips, the former goalkeeper for the Trinidad and Tobago national soccer team, the Howard University Bison were composed of players from the Caribbean, Africa, and the Americas. Their ability to perform at high levels became a symbol of unity during a time when racial tensions made news headlines. This historical study explores how the NCAA, through its Committee on Infractions, used its power to target Howard University and take away a hard-earned national soccer title in 1971. The Howard University men’s soccer team regrouped and proved that they could achieve the impossible once again in 1974. This study also examines the influence that Coach Phillips had in the success of Howard’s soccer program. Through primary documents, articles, books, magazines, newspapers, and interviews, this thesis shares the strong human spirit that transformed a HBCU institution into a soccer champion. The study also provides a historical example of how soccer at the intercollegiate level of competition could be traced back to the time when many universities across America evoked bigotry and indifference. While volumes of documents are filled with facts about the success of soccer in America, Howard University’s obtaining of a second NCAA soccer title in 1974 has received little scholarly attention. This study looks into this critical comeback story.



Howard University Soccer, 1971 NCAA Soccer, 1974 NCAA Soccer Champions, Lincoln Phillips, Soccer, National Soccer Champions