Bill Cofield

Bill Cofield (1939-1983)

Teams coached: Lincoln Lions, Prairie View A&M Panthers, Racine Lakers, Wisconsin Badgers
Lincoln record^: 38-12 (.760)
Prairie View A&M record^: 57-48 (.543)
Racine record^: 14-15 (.483)
Wisconsin record: 63-101 (.384)
Overall record^: 172-176 (.494)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  0
  • NAIA Tournament Appearances:  2  (1968, 1969)

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1976-1982 Wisconsin
1974-1976 Virginia (asst)
1973-1974 Racine
1969-1973 Prairie View A&M
1967-1969 Lincoln
1966-1967 Kentucky State (asst)

Bill Cofield Facts

  • William Lawrence Cofield
  • Born September 21, 1939
  • Died June 20, 1983
  • Hometown: Carrier Mills, Illinois
  • Alma Mater: McKendree University (BA, 1963) / University of Kentucky (M.Ed, 1967)
  • Started his collegiate career at Casper JC in Wyoming before finishing at College Division (D-II) McKendree in Lebanon, IL
    • Cofield was later inducted into McKendree’s Athletics Hall of Fame
  • Began coaching at H. E. Davis JHS in Cleveland, OH in 1963, then in 1965 became an assistant at East Technical HS
  • Moved up to the college ranks in 1966, spending one year as an assistant at Kentucky State
  • Was the head coach at Lincoln University (PA) for two years, going 38-12 and reaching the NAIA Tournament both seasons
  • Left for Prairie View A&M and the SWAC (then D-II) in 1969 and went 57-48 in four seasons at the helm
  • Named athletic director and head basketball coach at Dominican College of Racine (WI) in 1973, in the process becoming the first African-American man to be named in either role at a predominantly white institution
    • Went 14-15 in his lone season at the school, which went on to close in 1974
  • Spent two seasons on longtime Virginia head coach Terry Holland‘s staff before getting the UW job
  • Became the first ever black head coach of a major sport in the Big Ten when he was hired as the Badgers’ head man in 1976
    • Led the program for six seasons, going 63-101 overall but finishing above .500 just once: 15-14 in 1979-80
    • Was not successful on the court but helped lay the foundation for future success, much of which came under one of his own assistant coaches, Bo Ryan
  • Resigned under pressure in March 1982 and in 1983, Cofield passed away from cancer at the age of 43

Bill Cofield Coaching Tree

  • Scott Roth (Iowa Wolves, Bakersfield Jam, overseas)
  • Bo Ryan (Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Platteville)


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the NCAA Division I, Division II and NAIA levels; PVA&M was a Division II program during Cofield’s tenure there