Jan. 10, 2011
BEAUMONT - Some 55 years after earning All-America recognition as a running back at Prairie View A&M University, John Payton is now poised to pick up the ball and run it for Lamar University as special assistant to Cardinal athletics director Larry Tidwell.
Payton, who spent 13 seasons as an assistant football coach on the staffs of Vernon Glass, Bob Frederick, Larry Kennan and Ken Stephens at Lamar and still remains as an assistant professor in the department of heath and kinesiology, will assist Tidwell as a consultant, a counselor to athletes and coaches and as a public relations representative for the athletic department within the Beaumont and Southeast Texas communities.
"Coach Payton has been a very loyal professor, coach, counselor and leader at Lamar University for 40-plus years, and he represents the Cardinal Nation in a first-class manner each and every day," said Tidwell in making the announcement at a Monday afternoon press conference in the Montagne Center. "With this designation and recognition from president Dr. James Simmons and myself, Coach Payton will aid the university through many facets that will always have the best interest of the student-athletes first and foremost."
Payton's 3,703 career rushing yards remain a Prairie View record, and he also scored 40 rushing touchdowns for the Panthers. Before joining Glass' Lamar staff in 1970, Payton won state championships as a basketball coach at Woodville Scott High School in 1957 and 1958 and another state title at Beaumont Charlton-Pollard in 1964.
"I will be more than happy to help Coach Tidwell in any areas in which he asks me to," said Payton, who is a member of the Cardinal Hall of Honor, the Prairie View A&M Athletic Hall of Fame and the Southeast Texas Coaches Association Hall of Fame. "I will help in making contacts with the local community and with working with the student-athletes, coaches and so forth.
"If any of our athletes need guidance in their classroom work, I certainly would not turn them down. I've always been willing to help give them advice. I'll be glad to help do whatever Coach Tidwell asks me to do."