Bill Perkins with team

Bill Perkins and the Eckerd Men's Basketball team pose for their group photo of the year. 

Shortly after graduating from Eckerd in 1979, Bill Perkins joined a management training program for Allstate and struggled with his new job. He wasn’t convinced this was what he should be doing. Looking for guidance, Perkins came back to Eckerd to talk to Coach Jim Harley about what he was going to do with his life.

Harley only responded with, “Well Bill, come be my assistant. Any idiot can coach.”

This small quote of encouragement launched Perkins into a twenty-seven year career as a men’s basketball coach. Here, he made history as Eckerd’s first Black assistant coach. 

After starting his college basketball career at New Mexico Military Institute, their basketball coach at the time, Gary Cardinal, informed Perkins about Eckerd and reached out to Harley about Perkin’s abilities as a forward with strong defensive skills.

Perkins claims after this discussion that “the rest was history.” He found himself transferring to Eckerd as an athlete in the fall of 1976, and ended up playing at Eckerd until he graduated with a major in biology in 1979.

Only ten years after the first Black student graduated from Eckerd, the college continued with Perkins as their newest assistant coach in the fall of 1979, and not only was Perkins the very first Black coach at Eckerd, he was also the very first Black coach in the history of the Sunshine State Conference.

“In the twenty seven years that I coached, I always wanted to try to be a positive influence to help and encourage young men,” Perkins said.

While coaching at Eckerd, Perkins also was a science teacher at Lakewood High School located on 54th Avenue S, down the street from the college.

Although Perkins started his long career at Eckerd, there are many more college, university and high school teams that he coached. From Colorado to Indiana, he took  many opportunities to coach all different levels of teams. Some of the places that he has worked at are included, but not limited to: Eckerd College, University of Colorado, Brown University, Athletes in Action, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, Eagle Crest High School and a few others that round out the list of his career.

After discussing his own personal achievements, Perkins offered endless praise to Harley and his other mentors that helped him along the way to and beyond Eckerd.

“I look back at all my experiences at Eckerd and the relationships I was able to develop and they have lent themselves to any success I’ve had so far,” Perkins said.

After retiring from coaching in 2003 and a short time launching his "telco" career at DISH Network, Perkins now works as the Alternate Channel Director for Frontier Communications. He expressed his ongoing love for the sport of basketball and how much the game has affected the way he lives his life.

“It’s important to be shoulder to shoulder and back to back with other people to try and accomplish common goals that mutual benefit everyone. That’s what basketball is, the five fingers of the hand have to work together to be successful,” Perkins said.

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