Willie Slater enters his 10th season as the head coach of Tuskegee University after being appointed to that same position on January 17, 2006.
Going into the 2015 season, Slater has 37 seasons of coaching experience which include 31 years at the collegiate level. Over half of those years – 18 – were spent as an offensive coordinator at multiple levels.
During his time at Tuskegee, Slater has recorded an 81-21 record, which ranks him third all-time in wins at the university. He is just 10 victories shy of passing Rick Comegy for second all-time in victories at Tuskegee, which would put him only trailing the legendary Cleve Abbott (202 victories). He is currently the leader in winning percentage for a career at the school, with a percentage of .794 over his first nine seasons. During his tenure, Slater has coached 42 SIAC All-Conference selections, and numerous All-Americans.
Slater and the Golden Tigers have claimed six SIAC championships since 2006, including a string of four consecutive from 2006 until 2009. He also helped the lead the Golden Tigers to their eighth HBCU national championship in 2007 with a 12-0 record. Tuskegee has recorded nine wins in seven of Slater’s first nine seasons at the helm, and have recorded a winning season in eight of the nine seasons under his direction.
Slater was named The Pigskin Club of Washington, DC and the Sheridan Broadcasting Network National Coach of the Year in 2007, a year in which he led Tuskegee to a perfect 12-0 record and the HBCU title. Additionally, Slater has been tabbed as the SIAC Coach of the Year five times (2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2014).
Last season, the Golden Tigers finished 9-3 after dropping two of their first three games. They went on to finish undefeated in SIAC play, recording a 7-0 record, and defeated Albany State 47-41 in the SIAC championship game played at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery. Tuskegee qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs for the second consecutive year, falling to West Georgia in the first round, a game in which the Golden Tigers hosted at Cleve L. Abbott Memorial Alumni Stadium.
During the 2014 season, Tuskegee led the conference in scoring by averaging 34.8 points per game which was seven points higher than the next closest team in Stillman (27.9 ppg). They also finished top in the conference in total offense (385.8 ypg), pass efficiency (143.6), punting (38.0 ypg), first downs per game (19.0) and third down efficiency (41.7%). The team also finished in the top three in the conference in scoring defense (20.3 ppg), total defense (306.2 ypg), rushing defense (120.9 ypg), passing offense (212.6 ypg), kickoff returns (23.1 ypg), interceptions (14), kickoff coverage (38.7 ypg) and sacks (37).
The Golden Tigers also finished in the top 20 nationally and top 40 nationally in statistics during the 2014 season. Tuskegee finished fourth in net punting (38.0 ypg), 15th in kickoff returns (23.14 ypg) and 17th in total defense (306.2 ypg) to finish in the top 20. They also finished 28th in passing yards allowed (185.3 ypg), 29th in fourth-down conversion percentage defense (0.346), 30th in rushing defense (120.9 ypg), 34th in scoring defense (20.3 ppg), 35th in team passing efficiency defense (111.31), and 36th in team passing efficiency (143.49).
Last season, Slater had 11 players named All-Conference, either first team or second team, and also coached the Freshman of the Year in Osband Thompson. The Golden Tigers also had 14 players selected as All-Americans and one player selected for the College Gridiron Classic – Matthew Reese.
Two seasons ago, Slater and the Golden Tigers led the SIAC in scoring offense by recording 32.0 points per game, by scoring a conference-leading 45 touchdowns. They also led the conference in scoring defense by giving up only 15.7 points per game to their opponents. During the 2014 season, the Golden Tigers qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time in school history, falling to the University of North Alabama in the opening round.
During his tenure at Tuskegee, Slater has been successful against conference opponents and long-time foes of Tuskegee as he has recorded a 63-8 record in SIAC play during his nine years. He also recorded a 5-2 record against Alabama State University during his tenure.
A five-time NCAA Division II National Assistant Coach of the Year, Slater has five NCAA Division II national championships on his resume. He joined the Tuskegee staff as the head coach after serving as the offensive coordinator at Temple University (FBS member) in 2005 under Bobby Wallace.
His first stop as a full-time collegiate coach came Troy University (1983-90), where he served as the running backs under Chan Gailey (1983-84). In total, he spent eight seasons with the Trojans, also working as the quarterbacks and running backs coach under Rick Rhoades (1985-87) and as the offensive coordinator for Robert Maddox (1988-90). The Trojans went to the NCAA Division II playoffs three times with Slater on staff, winning the NCAA Division II national championship in 1984 and 1987. He was named the NCAA Division II National Assistant Coach of the Year in both of the title campaigns for Troy.
Following his stint at Troy, Slater moved on to a stint at his alma mater – the University of West Alabama (1991-92).
After his stay at West Alabama, Slater moved to the perennial NCAA Division II power – the University of North Alabama (1992-99), which included six seasons as the offensive coordinator under Wallace. During his stay in Florence, the Lions qualified for the playoffs five times and won three consecutive NCAA Division II national championships from 1993 to 1995. Slater was named the NCAA Division II National Assistant Coach of the Year in all three championship seasons for the Lions, and in 1993, the team had the country’s top rushing offense by averaging 317.5 yards per game.
Following his stints at several of the top NCAA Division II schools in the state of Alabama, Slater moved to another under then-head coach Jack Crowe at Jacksonville State University (2000-03). During his stay at Jacksonville State, the Gamecocks won the Ohio Valley Conference in 2003 with a 7-1 record (8-4 overall).
During a stellar career of working with programs in Divisions I-A, I-AA and II, Slater has had the pleasure of coaching numerous players who have taken those skills to the NFL playing for teams such as the New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins among others.
Prior to his full-time collegiate coaching career, Slater served as a graduate assistant at the University of West Alabama after his playing career for one year. He moved on from the collegiate ranks to the high school ranks where he coached at Jess Lanier (1979-80) in Bessemer, Ala., then at T.R. Miller High School (1981-82) in Brewton.
Before coaching, Slater shined on the playing field, both in high school and college. He was a four-year starter at quarterback for West Alabama, then called Livingston College, from1974 until 1977 and helped the Tigers to a third place finish in the 1975 NCAA Division II playoffs. He still ranks sixth in career rushing at the school with 1,582yards and 20 touchdowns and is ninth in career total offense with 2,081 yards. His 90-yard run against Troy State in 1975 still stands as the longest run from scrimmage.
He was also a standout at the high school level, where was named a prep All-America at quarterback and was the Class 1A Player of the Year at Coffeeville (Ala.) High School.
Slater earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Education from Livingston College in 1979.