From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Phillips, Joseph "Joker"

(born: 1963) Joker Phillips became the first African American head football coach at the University of Kentucky, January 6, 2010. Phillips  was born in Franklin, KY, 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 (UK), 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, returning 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 were the other two. On November 4, 2012, after UK had compiled a three-year record of 12-23, UK Athletic director Mitch Barnhart announced that Phillips would be dismissed at the end of the season (see SBNation). Phillips was then 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, 1/6/2010; "States hiring of Black coaches is very impressive," Daily News (Bowling Green, KY), 1/15/2010, Opinions section; C. Westerhaus, "Minority coaching ranks on the rise," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/13/2010, Opinion section, p. A15; M. Story, "For those who came before - UK football's Black pioneers appreciate Phillip's ascension," Lexington Herald-Leader, 1/10/2010, 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).


Kentucky County & Region

Read about Simpson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Franklin, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Kentucky Kernel (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Daily news (Bowling Green, KY) (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Atlanta journal-constitution (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry: Strong, Charlie R.
NKAA Entry: Taggart, Willie

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Phillips, Joseph "Joker",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 25, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-07-17 19:58:11