KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Legendary Carson-Newman head football coach Ken Sparks has been tabbed for induction into the Fellowship of Christian Athletes' Hall of Champions. Sparks will be inducted during the Carson-Newman Football Championship Coaching Clinic in Pigeon Forge on March 10.
Sparks has worked tirelessly to further the FCA vision: to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes. FCA Hall of Champions honorees over the years have been made up of a mix of coaches, athletes and volunteers who serve the ministry, including sports greats such as Bobby Bowden, Tony Dungy, Tom Landry, Tom Osborne and Roger Staubach, just to name a few.
"The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is honored to welcome Ken Sparks into the 2017 Hall of Champions," FCA President and CEO Shane Williamson said. "Ken is a wonderful example of a servant-leader whose commitment to impacting coaches and athletes for Jesus Christ has been on display for more than 30 years. We are so thankful for how he has given of himself toward the success of this ministry—all in an effort to help change lives through sports, FCA and God's grace and guidance."
Sparks will be honored with the FCA Hall of Champions induction during the Carson-Newman Football Championship Coaching Clinic, an event for coaches and their spouses that Sparks spearheaded for more than 30 years. The presentation is set for 5:30 p.m. March 10 at the Music Road Resort | Hotel, Inn & Convention Center, 303 Henderson Chapel Road in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Those nominating Coach Sparks will also be in attendance to share their thoughts on Sparks' life. A special time of prayer will also be offered for Ken and his wife, Carol.
Sparks announced his retirement on Nov. 14. He finished his Carson-Newman career after 37 seasons, 338 wins, 99 losses and two ties. His career winning percentage of .7699 is the fourth highest in college football history while the 338 victories amount to the fifth best total nationally.
Sparks developed one of the winningest football programs in the history of the sport. The Eagles won five NAIA National Titles and played for it six times. A move to NCAA Division II didn't slow Sparks' Carson-Newman squad down. The Eagles played for the D-II National Title three times and were a semifinalist in 2009.
The rest of the numbers speak for themselves as Sparks has recorded 21 South Atlantic Conference Championships, 25 NCAA or NAIA playoff appearances, 104 All-Americans, and most recently, a street renamed after him that runs through the middle of Carson-Newman's campus.
Sparks was inducted into the inaugural NCAA Division II Hall of Fame Coaches Class in 2010 along with Northwest Missouri State's Mel Tjeerdsma and West Alabama's Bobby Wallace.
Sparks is also a member of the South Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame, the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame, the Carson-Newman Athletic Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame.
Sparks has been honored with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Lifetime Achievement Award and National Coach of the Year. In 2002, Sparks received the All-American Football Foundation's Johnny Vaught Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also a recipient of the FCA Grant Teaff Coach of the Year Award as well as the inaugural "Uncommon Award" presented by Tony Dungy.