In 1987 Nelson Townsend left FAMU to become the Athletic Director at UB, It was a Division Three school about a decade removed from the reintroduction of football by Ed Muto, Townsend's predecessor.
He recently returned to Florida A&M as their interim athletic director, his third stint at the school, and took it upon himself to hire Alex Wood, former UB offensive coordinator and interim coach. Today Townsend was rushed to the hospital where he died at the age 73.
FAMU President Elmira Mangum said in a statement, ''The University lost a dear friend, excellent leader, and administrator. We will miss Nelson Townsend. We join his wife and family in mourning this great loss.''
City Mayor Andrew Gillum also released a statement regarding Townsend's death.
"R. Jai and I are both saddened to hear the news of Nelson Townsend's passing this afternoon. Nelson was a community leader with a deep passion for the growth and development of student-athletes. His storied career spanning over three decades in collegiate and international athletics, as well as educational administration, is a testament to the dynamic and benevolent person he embodied to those around him. His contributions to FAMU Athletics and to our greater university community will be greatly remembered and appreciated. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family."
During his tenure at Buffalo Townsend oversaw UB's move from Division III athletics to Division I. Eventually a heart attack forced him to leave his post in 1999 but the work he did positioned the University to sell more than 19,000 tickets for the 1998 football season.
Everywhere that he went Townsend aimed at building people into a team with one goal. It was a philosophy UB needed during the 90's and it's one that he was going to bring to FAMU once again.
The only way we are going to restore this program back to the rightful place they we used to brag about is if we join hands, lock arms, create one agenda and more forward collectively to achieve that greatness again. -- Nelson Townsend to the Staff at FAMU
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Director Townsend.