Maryland to name football center after Billy Jones, Darryl Hill originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The legacy of former Maryland athletes Darryl Hill and Billy Jones will forever be remembered, and now both will have their names etched in history for the next era of Terrapins athletics.
On Thursday, new University of Maryland President Darryl Pines announced at his inauguration ceremony that the football performance center at the new Cole Field House will be named the Jones-Hill House in honor of the two trailblazing athletes.
Both Hill and Jones were instrumental figures in the breaking of the color barrier in college sports. Hill became the first Black player to play football in the ACC when he took the field for Maryland in September of 1963 against N.C. State.
Despite dealing with backlash from fans and other coaches, Hill shined for the Terps during his career. In a game at “Death Valley” against Clemson with 30,000 fans screaming at him, the wide receiver caught a Maryland-record 10 receptions.
“We fought a hard fight for African-American student-athletes and I am gratified that those doors have been opened and those barriers have been removed. It is a great honor to open those doors for all African-American student-athletes to follow and now they will proudly walk into this beautiful building. They will have a structure with a name that demonstrates what Maryland has accomplished in terms of racial and social equity. Every time they see Hill and Jones on that building, they will know what that represents and they will have something to be proud of,” Hill said. “To be the first African-American to receive an athletic scholarship from a Division I school south of the Mason-Dixon Line was quite an honor, but the impact didn’t resonate with me then. But, it certainly does now, and I am proud that Maryland took the lead in breaking down that barrier in sports and I am proud to be the person Maryland selected to lead that effort. Thank you to Kevin Plank, the University of Maryland and President Pines and Damon Evans for this special honor.”
Jones debuted for the Maryland basketball team in 1965, becoming the first Black player in the ACC to take the court. Playing alongside Gary Williams for the Terps, Jones changed the landscape of college basketball. He was named a team captain for Maryland during the 1967-68 season.
“I am absolutely elated to receive this honor. My life changed when I received the phone call informing me of this recognition. It is an honor that I couldn’t even imagine. I am thrilled to be honored along with Darryl, to share it with him is very special,” Jones said. “A trophy might break, a photograph might fade, but a building will be there for a lot of people to see. I am elated for everyone from the east side of Towson, my family, my grandchildren and my 96-year old mother who will be able to see this building with our names and what this building represents. I am so flattered and thankful for the generosity of Kevin Plank, the University of Maryland, President Darryll Pines and Damon Evans.”