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Univ. of Tennessee wrestler, Middle Tennessee coach Joe Black Hayes dead at 98

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Joe Black Hayes, letter-winning wrestler at the University of Tennessee who went on to launch a mat program at Middle Tennessee State University, has died.

Hayes, a multi-sport athlete and coach, passed away Monday in his native Murfreesboro, Tenn., according to media reports Wednesday.

At Tennessee-Knoxville, Hayes earned letters as a wrestler for the Volunteers, and competed in track and field, and starting guard and team captain for the UT football team from 1935-1937.

After graduating from Tennessee in 1939, Hayes went on to establish the wrestling program at Middle Tennessee State in 1950, which finished second in the Southeastern Tournament in 1954. Hayes also set up the school’s track and field program in the mid-1950s, along with serving as a line coach and defensive coordinator for the school’s football team.

Hayes retired from coaching in 1969 and from teaching in 1981.

Beyond his coaching and teaching careers, Hayes served his community and country. He was in the U.S. Navy from 1944-46, and involved in local government service.

Hayes was inducted into the University of Tennessee Hall of Fame in 1989, Cumberland University Hall of Fame in 1992, and the Middle Tennessee State Hall of Fame in 1997.

Hayes is survived by three sons, and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Services will be held 11 a.m. Friday at First Baptist Church in Murfeesboro, where he was a lifelong member. Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church or Middle Tennessee State University Foundation Scholarship fund in memory of Hayes.

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