Johnson C. Smith’s Joyner announces retirement

After 36 years as the head of coach of Johnson C. Smith University men’s basketball team, Stephen Joyner, Sr. is retiring. The legendary coach walks away with 600 wins recognized by the NCAA, the third most in CIAA men’s college basketball history.

After a stint as an assistant coach at Virginia Union University, he received his first head coaching position with JCSU’s women’s basketball team in 1981, building the Golden Bulls into one of the CIAA’s most competitive programs. He guided the women’s team to its first appearance in the NCAA South Atlantic Regional Tournament in 1985. To get there, the team won its first CIAA Southern Division Championship and finished second in the CIAA tournament. After compiling a 82-72 record with the women’s team, Joyner took over as the head men’s coach in 1987.

For nearly three decades, he has taken the men’s program to unprecedented levels, establishing JCSU as one of the most feared teams in the CIAA. In his final year Joyner claimed his 600th coaching win in an 80-74 win over Claflin on Feb. 24, 2024, and coached his final CIAA tournament in Baltimore.  Joyner reached his 500th coaching win over the Apprentice School on Nov. 20, 2015.  Under Joyner’s helm, he only had one losing season after the Golden Bulls took the 2020-21 year off due to Covid-19. The Golden Bulls finished the 2021-2022 season with a 5-19 record.

He was inducted to the John B. McLendon, Jr. CIAA Hall of Fame in 2014 in recognition of his coaching success and his lifetime of contributions to the CIAA.

Joyner, the winningest men’s basketball coach in JCSU history, captured the CIAA Tournament Championship in 2001, 2008 and 2009. In 2001, he led the men’s team to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Elite Eight Tournament. His Golden Bulls completed their historic 2001 season ranked #10 in the final NCAA poll and #2 in the final Sheridan Broadcasting Network poll of black colleges. Joyner was selected as CIAA Coach of the Year in 1992, 1997, and 2001, and as NCAA Division II South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year in 2001.

In all, Joyner has led the Bulls to nine CIAA divisional titles and has produced three CIAA Players of the Year, 34 All-CIAA performers, and seven All-Americans; many of whom received the honors multiple times. In addition, his up-tempo style produced JCSU’s top two career scorers, Columbus “Green Light” Parker and Mark Sherrill. Sherrill now serves as Joyner’s assistant coach. Joyner is an active member of the CIAA Basketball Coaches Association for which he currently serves as president. He is also a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He is also an NCAA Division II Congressman and member of the NCAA Division II All-American Committee.

A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Joyner’s basketball success began at Atkins High School where he was the second leading scorer on the 1969 undefeated North Carolina State 4-A Championship Team. After a stellar high school career, Joyner became a star point guard for the JCSU Golden Bulls from 1969-73.

JCSU will immediately begin a national search for a new head coach.

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