Living history, living legend....Cy McClairen
Posted By: Elynor Moss on August 04, 2016 |
Player, coach, athletic director: He defines Bethune-Cookman athletics – and then some
When retiring assistant athletics director Jack “Cy” McClairen (class of ’53) left campus for the last time as an employee at the end of June, it was a long-delayed departure for the man considered Bethune-Cookman University’s living museum.
McClairen had considered retiring in 1993 but instead decided to retake the helm of the school’s football program, which had abruptly lost its coach. It was the type of sacrifice McClairen was revered for since first stepping onto campus as a student in 1949.
During the 59-year association with his alma mater, McClairen, 85, has served as player, football coach (71-60-3), basketball coach (396-436) and athletic director.
In recent years, he’s also spent time as the senior associate athletics director and assistant golf coach, but he dropped the coaching duties five years ago after hip replacement surgery. Now he is finally moving to his easy chair in Daytona Beach, Florida, home of the Wildcats.
McClairen has been a fixture on campus since 1961, two years after leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers when an injury cut his career short.
An All-Pro with the Pittsburgh Steelers
He has been around the game so long that he has seen most of the major changes in college and professional games – from playing making “good money” to working with multimillion-dollar contracts.
“When I played, $9,000 was the [NFL] minimum,” McClairen said. “When December came around, you had to find a job until July,” the start of training camp. “Now it’s a new ball game.
“The athletes have been changing since the ’60s,” he said. “First the money changed everything,” such as drawing black athletes to predominantly white schools to increase their chances of getting drafted.
“Then, the TV exposure changed everything again,” creating revenue streams that encourage athletes to leave college and turn professional at the first opportunity.
“I think it’s a mistake somewhere,” McClairen said, “but I can’t speak to it. I don’t want to shoot blanks at the money they are making now.”
McClairen has a simple reason for why he is retired this summer: “It was time.”
His run is so amazing that a 90-minute theatrical and multimedia presentation, The Jack “Cy” McClairen Story, will be presented 7 p.m. Aug. 13 on campus at the Mary McCleod Bethune Performing Arts Center, a building named for the university’s founder, whom McClairen knew personally.
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