Joe Tusa, who served as Houston ISD’s athletic director from 1965-1989, will be inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Tusa’s reign over the program saw many milestones, including the integration of schools in the late 1960s and the 1972 inception of Title IX, which prohibits educational institutions from excluding anyone from any activity on the basis of sex.
“It was absolutely rewarding,” Tusa told the Waco Tribune. “The thing that’s so great about sports is it’s based on a person’s ability and nothing else. That’s the way it ought to be.”
Before Tusa became the district’s longest-serving athletic director, he served as an assistant football coach at his alma mater, Reagan High School.
“I played football and baseball while attending Reagan High School and then went on to play football for the University of Houston and for Rice University,” Tusa told HISD in 2012. “I knew in high school that I wanted to become a coach because I saw and experienced firsthand how they can influence the lives of children.”
Tusa told the Waco Tribune that he thought some of his former players helped him get into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.
“I think some of them members of my 1958 and ’59 teams, who were city champs, were instrumental in getting me here,” Tusa said. “I really didn’t know what was going on, but I got this call from Waco and was truly surprised.”
Just a few days after his induction, the Greater Houston Football Coaches Association will also honor Tusa in its Hall of Honor.
In 2012, Delmar Stadium, which neighbors the district’s northwest Houston headquarters, was renamed Delmar-Tusa Stadium.
“I’m really deeply honored,” Tusa told HISD in 2012. “I’ve heard that quite a few of my former students and players at Reagan lobbied on my behalf. I want to say ‘thank- you’ to them because it really means a lot of me and my family.”
Tusa, who will turn 87 on May 10, is now retired and is active on several boards and in his church. In 2012, he told HISD he worked out at the YMCA three times a week.