CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A coaching legend at West Virginia State University was honored during Wednesday night’s home basketball game in Institute.
A large crowd gathered inside Fleming Hall before the start of the first game of the season for the Yellow Jackets to watch the new gymnasium floor be dedicated to Coach Mark Cardwell.
Several members of the Cardwell family took part in the ceremony. Cardwell’s daughter Betty Cardwell Spencer said they always wanted to see something like this done but never thought they would see their dad’s name etched into the floor.
“We were just so impressed when Dr. Hemphill decided that this was possible and the board went along with it but we just really cherish it with family and friends,” she said.
Cardwell, a WVSU graduate and talented football player, would coach at the institution from 1945 till 1964. He coached football, baseball, basketball, track and boxing. Spencer said her father was a special coach.
“Daddy didn’t really do a lot of bragging, never hardly raised his voice,” she adds. “He was a very calm man, not like most of the coaches that you know.”
Cardwell would bring the boxing team to a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) title in the first year and do the same for the football team. He would add another CIAA title in football in 1951.
In 1948 and 1949 Cardwell would lead the basketball team to CIAA championships. Then after joining the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) in 1955, under his leadership the basketball team won the conference tournament in 1961 and a regular season WVIAC title in 1963. Cardwell would coach until his death on March 10, 1964.
Spencer said he would just be honored to see his name on the court.
“I think he would be super pleased but you would probably never hear it come out of his mouth, other people would have to say it,” she said. “But he would be super pleased and I know he would enjoy it for the family also.”
Cardwell would finish his football coaching career at WVSU with a record of 69-58-15, a .543 winning percentage. After 19 years as the basketball coach, he finished with a career mark of 288-168.
From now on the playing surface inside Fleming Hall will be known as Coach Mark Cardwell Court.