NEW ORLEANS — Otis Washington, a member of multiple halls of fame and a 1961 Xavier University of Louisiana graduate, died Friday at age 80.
Washington played football (linebacker/offensive guard) and baseball (catcher) for the Gold Rush and was a member of XULA’s last intercollegiate football team in 1959.
“Xavier did a lot for me,” Washington said in 2014. “I learned a lot of things there socially and religiously. Xavier was small enough to get involved in, but it was big enough for people to keep their own culture to a certain extent. To this day, Xavier is one of the best schools in this country.”
Washington gained his greatest fame as the head football coach at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans during the 1970s. His St. Aug teams won state championships in 1975, 1978 and 1979 in the LHSAA’s highest classification at the time, AAAA. He parlayed that success into football jobs at LSU, Southern and Tulane, including head coach of the Jaguars from 1981-86.
Washington became LSU’s first African American football coach when he joined the staff as an assistant in December 1979.
In July 2003, the Times-Picayune newspaper rated Washington’s 1975 St. Aug team — which was 15-0 and defeated previously unbeaten Covington 35-13 in the championship game — one of the 10 best in New Orleans history and the best of the 1970s.
During Washington’s 11 seasons (1969-79) as St. Aug’s coach, his teams compiled a 113-17-1 (.866) record with 11 winning seasons and seven district championships.
Washington was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2015, the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame in 1994 and the New Orleans High School Sports Hall of Fame.
“Otis Washington was one of the outstanding football coaches of his generation,” said Jason Horn, XULA’s assistant vice president for student affairs/director of athletics and recreation. “He was a dedicated teacher and a molder of young men. Xavier is proud to call him one of ours.”
Washington’s wife, the former Linda Patterson, also was a XULA graduate. The couple had no children.
Washington said he spent his retirement years “playing as much golf as I can.” He had a 10 handicap.
Washington was born Feb. 12, 1939, in Selma, Ala., and was a 1957 graduate of Selma’s R.B. Hudson High School. He converted to Catholicism in 1955 and was a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church of Baton Rouge, La., in his later years.
Visitation for Washington will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 1 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 2250 Main St. in Baton Rouge. A funeral Mass will follow at 11 a.m. Interment will be at Heavenly Gates Mausoleum in Baton Rouge.
Courtesy: XULA Athletics