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Phillips, Joseph "Joker"
Birth Year : 1963
Joker Phillips became the first African American head football coach at the University of Kentucky, January 6, 2010. Phillips, a Kentucky native, was born in Franklin, where he became an outstanding football player at Franklin-Simpson High School. He was quarterback on two of the school's 3A championship teams. He next attended the University of Kentucky where he was a wide receiver on the football team, 1981-1984. Phillips caught 75 passes for 935 yards and nine touchdowns. He played two seasons in the NFL with the Washington Redskins, and one season with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. After his professional football career, Phillips was an assistant for several college football teams and returned to Kentucky in 2004 as the offensive coordinator under Rich Brooks. In 2010, Phillips was one of three African American head football coaches hired at Kentucky universities: Charlie Strong at the University of Louisville, and Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky University. November 4, 2012, after a three year record of 12-23, UK Athletic director Mitch Barnhart announced in an open letter (on football website) that Phillips would be dismissed at the end of the season. Phillips was hired by the University of Florida as the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator for the Gators' football team [source: C. Low, "Gators strengthen staff with Joker Phillips," 12/03/2012, online at ESPN] . For more see B. W. Jones, "The Joker Phillips Timeline," Kentucky Kernel, 01/06/2010; "States hiring of Black coaches is very impressive," Daily News (Bowling Green, KY), 01/15/2010, Opinions section; C. Westerhaus, "Minority coaching ranks on the rise," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 01/13/2010, Opinion section, p.A15; M. Story, "For those who came before - UK football's Black pioneers appreciate Phillip's ascension," Lexington Herald-Leader, 01/10/2010, Sports section, p.C2; and the 2010 interview "Coach Joker Phillips," program #533 [available online] on Connections With Renee Shaw at Kentucky Educational Televisions (KET).
Geographic Region: Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky