Frederick Snowden was a businessman and men’s basketball coach at the University of Arizona. Nicknamed “The Fox” for his cool demeanor, he was the first African-American head coach at a major university.
Snowden was born in Brewton, Alabama, the son of a sharecropper. At age 6 he moved to Detroit, Michigan with his mother and two brothers while his father remained in Alabama. He graduated from Detroit’s Northwestern High School. Snowden met his wife, Maya, at Wayne State University and was married in 1962.
In 1972, Snowden became the first African-American head coach at a major university and the second black head coach at a Division I school, following Illinois State’s Will Robinson, when he accepted a position at the University of Arizona.
Snowden announced his resignation in January 1982. At the time of the announcement, there were allegations that he had been involved with the improper use of a university slush fund, a charge that Snowden denied. After an investigation by the NCAA, there was no evidence Snowden had acted improperly. He was inducted into the University of Arizona hall of fame in 1988.
Following his coaching career Snowden became an executive with Baskin-Robbins and the Food 4 Less Foundation. Snowden died on January 17, 1994, after suffering a heart attack.