Believe it or not, no one was keeping track at the time so it’s extremely difficult to know for sure.
This photograph was taken in the spring of 1972. That’s McCoy McLemore in between head basketball coach Don Knodel and head football coach Al Conover. As far as I can tell he was the first African-American to coach any sport here:
But I could well be wrong. If you know something I don’t please tell me. It simply isn’t possible to figure it out from the records we have. I found out the little I know completely by accident.
A Houston native and Yates High School graduate, McCoy McLemore had been a standout big man at Drake University, named to their All-Decade team for the 1960s. He spent eight years in the NBA, ending his career back in Houston with the Rockets in the 1971-72 season before arriving at Rice. He also worked as a broadcaster for the Rockets. The mid-70s were a pretty tumultuous time for Rice basketball but McLemore seems to have been popular with both the players and the rest of the student body. There was some speculation that he might become head coach after Coach Knodel resigned in 1974 but that was not to be. He died of cancer in 2009, only 67 years old.