Prophet to be Enshrined in CoSIDA Hall of Fame
Charles "Chuck" Prophet was a man who wore many hats.
The longtime sports information director at Mississippi Valley State University, who passed away on June 20, 2008, is one of seven individuals who'll be enshrined into CoSIDA Hall of Fame on June 25 during the St. Louis Convention. The other sports information icons who'll go into the Hall along with Prophet are Debbie Copp (Oklahoma), Tom Di Camillo (Pacific West Conference), Sue Edson (Syracuse), Lawrence Fan (San Jose State), Fred Huff (SIU-Carbondale) and Kennan Timm (Wisconsin-Oshkosh).
During his career at Mississippi Valley State, Prophet served as sports information director for 30 years, from 1971 until his retirement in 2001. He held dual titles of SID and athletics director from 1985 until 2001. Early in his career at MVSU, he was listed as equipment manager and, while also serving as SID, he served as publicity director for the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) for nine of those years.
"I never got a chance to meet Mr. Prophet, but I know of his legacy," said Hampton University's SID, Maurice Williams, who nominated Prophet for the Hall of Fame. "From what I've heard, Mr. Prophet wore many hats and he wore them with pride, pride that was exemplified in his work. For the younger SIDs like me, he was a trailblazer."
For most of his life, Prophet lived and worked in the same rural county where he was born - Leflore County, where Mississippi Valley State is situated. He graduated from Broad Street High School in Greenwood, Miss. in 1959, served a stint in the U.S. Army and then matriculated at MVSU, where he received a B.S. degree in social science in 1970 and a M.A. degree in continuing education in 1971. It was at that point that he launched his stellar career at his alma mater.
Prophet, along with SWAC legends Collie Nicholson of Grambling State University, Samuel Jefferson of Jackson State University and Bennie Thomas of Southern University, were the stalwarts who transformed sports information in the Southwestern Athletic Conference from being viewed as keepers of statistics to being viewed as an art, a respectable profession.
"Chuck's commitment to Mississippi Valley athletics was unparalleled and it showed in his work," says Jefferson. "He loved his athletes and would do anything for them when it came to promoting them.
"Chuck was a role model for the younger SIDs that came along in the SWAC," added Jefferson. "A lot of innovative things that he did caused the younger guys to follow in his footsteps. He was definitely a trailblazer and going into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame is a well-deserved honor for him."
Just four years into his stint as SID at MVSU, Prophet concurrently took on the task of publicity director for the SWAC, running the league's media relations program out of his SID office at the school.
It was during that period that he, along with Jefferson, initiated the SWAC Football Press Tour, a traveling bus caravan through the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas to promote the league's upcoming football season. Legendary coaches such as Grambling's Eddie Robinson, Alcorn State's Marino Casem and Jackson State's W.C. Gorden all participated in the tour, as did MVSU's Archie "Gunslinger" Cooley and the offensive duo of Jerry Rice and Willie Totten.
It was the Cooley-Rice-Totten trio that helped to put the small Itta Bena university on the map. Prophet was the architect who made the trio household names. Both Totten and Rice would go on to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, while Totten, Rice, Cooley and Prophet have all been inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame.
Totten, who currently works in development at MVSU, attributes much of the accolades he received while playing college football to Prophet.
"Actually, I think all of the credit goes to Chuck," noted Totten. "Chuck was our SID and he made sure he got the word out to the media. He did an outstanding job of selling our program. It's hard for players to sell a program. You have to have someone who knows the media and who knows how to sell you to the media. If Chuck hadn't done the great job that he did, the media wouldn't have known about me, or Rice or Cooley."
Prophet served as president of the Black College Sports Information Directors Association (BCSIDA) from 1992-1999. In 1998, he was honored by CoSIDA with its 25-year award. Later, while also serving as MVSU's athletics director, he oversaw a low-budget athletics program that managed to capture two NAIA outdoor track and field championships, three SWAC men's basketball championships and two SWAC women's basketball championships.
When he died in 2008, hundreds of former colleagues and players from around the country attended Prophet's funeral at the R.W. Harrison Health, Physical Education and Recreation Complex, where the school plays its home basketball games and volleyball matches.
At Rice-Totten Stadium, the football field was dedicated in his honor three years before his death. The field is now called Charles "Chuck" Prophet Field.
Anna Prophet, who attended many CoSIDA Workshops with Chuck and the couple's two daughters, says she was thrilled when she got the news about her late husband's election to the CoSIDA Hall of Fame.
"I was just really, really excited," said Anna Prophet. "For as hard as he had worked, I thought it was good to see that people realize that he did do a lot of good for the students. I'm happy to know that he's still being thought of for the works that he did."