Former Gridiron Great Returns to Campus to Mentor Business Students

Published on April 28, 2015

As a three-time all-Ohio Valley Conference quarterback on some outstanding teams at Eastern Kentucky University, Jim Guice set individual passing records that stood for many years. His numbers were eventually eclipsed, but stories of his swagger and toughness resonate to this day.

Ask Guice what he remembers most about those days, though, and he’s liable to talk not about his many achievements but about his rare failures, the mentoring and the lessons about teamwork and team building that propelled him to a similar level of success in the business world.

A member of the inaugural class of the EKU Athletics Hall of Fame, Guice completed 386 of 720 passes for 5,041 yards and 46 touchdowns through the air. His 934 plays of total offense during his EKU career (1965-68) is still a program record, and he helped lead the 1967 and 1968 teams to OVC championships, as well as the MidEast regional title in 1967.

He went on to hold a senior management position with Ryder Transportation for 28 years and is now an executive vice president with AmeriQuest Business Services in Florida.

Despite his almost 400 career completions, it’s a miss that he said he’ll never forget – a pass that would have snapped a 14-14 standoff with bitter rival Western Kentucky in 1967. Guice might still fret over that incompletion, but long-time Colonel fans remember that, a few weeks later, that same player shone as MVP when Eastern walloped Ball State 27-13 in the Grantland Rice Bowl.

“When you talk about what got it all started for the tremendous success this program has enjoyed the last 40 years, you have to start here with this 1967 Eastern team,” former Colonel Coach Danny Hope once said.

Recently, Guice returned to the Richmond campus to spend a day with business students preparing to follow in his footsteps and assume their own leadership roles in Corporate America.

It might surprise some that Guice considers himself a classic introvert, one who “had to put myself in a position where I had to project. If you recognize what you are, you learn to overcome that.”

So that was one subject he broached with today’s EKU students.

“There are no perfect fits, in sports or business,” Guice said, “no unique advantages to being an extrovert or introvert.”

Likewise, his teammates were a mix of all personality types, but he learned to respect and count on them all, just as they did him. He remembers College Football Hall of Fame Coach Roy Kidd talking often about “having teammates know they can count on you. If I have an ability in business management, it’s team building, putting the right people in the right seats on the bus, so to speak, and making sure that team clearly understands what’s expected of them.”

The mentoring he received from Kidd and other Eastern coaches helped turn Guice, as he tells it, from a boy – one who hadn’t always made the best choices – to a man. The fact that he was a husband and father for a portion of his playing days didn’t hurt.

One of his five children, Matt, went on to play quarterback for the Colonels in 2003 and 2004.

The elder Guice continued to benefit from mentors during his time with Ryder, and he enjoyed “every minute of it” when he got the chance to do the same for EKU business students during his recent visit.

“I was very impressed with the Business School,” he said, marveling at the number of students with internships and even jobs awaiting them after graduation. “And I walked away being proud of the University and where it’s going.”