Earl Banks, former head coach of Morgan State University's football team, died early today at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center after the car he was driving crashed into a barrier at Franklin and North Payson streets.
Mr. Banks, whose coaching career spanned more than two decades, was a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Many of his players at Morgan State went on to professional football careers.
Mr. Banks was 69 and lived with his wife, Essie, in the 2800 block of Elsinore Ave.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
City police said Mr. Banks was driving south in the 500 block of N. Payson St. shortly after 2 a.m. today when he failed to stop at a stop sign at Franklin Street and crashed into the Jersey walls, knocking out a 24-foot section of the concrete barrier.
The car overturned in the intersection.
Police said Mr. Banks was taken by ambulance to Shock Trauma, where he was pronounced dead at 2:54 a.m.
Police said Mr. Banks, who had triple bypass heart surgery in 1981, may have died of a heart attack. They said an autopsy was to be performed to determine the exact cause of death.
Born in the Chicago projects where he grew up on welfare without a father, Mr. Banks attended public schools before entering the University of Iowa. He played guard at Iowa and became an All-America before playing with the New York Yankees in the All-American Football Conference.
His pro career was cut short by a knee injury.
At age 27, he became a line coach at Maryland State University in Princess Anne (now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore) and intended to stay only six months. He stayed nine years and built a reputation as a winner.
In 1960, he became Morgan State University's head football coach, taking the reigns from retiring head coach Edward Hurt.
In 1973, Mr. Banks retired as MSU's head coach, but stayed on for another 14 years at the school's athletic director before retiring in 1987.
MSU's head coach, he had a record of 95 victories, 30 losses and two ties.
Endowed with a will to win and seeking the maximum from his players, Mr. Banks, during his MSU coaching career, was the driving force that saw 40 of his players enter the National Football League.
Among them were running back Leroy Kelly, linebacker Willie Lanier, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and tight end Raymond Chester, a former Baltimore Colt.