Working those early years as a volunteer, Clayton recruited out of pocket, relying on a network of alumni and friends to identify talent for the program.Those early seasons yielded immediate success, as the intense young mentor turned the club from a 4-15 record in 1977-78 to 14-11 the following season.During his 13-year run at the helm of the FAMU Women’s Basketball Program (1977-90), Clayton’s charges posted a 199-138 mark overall, fashioning 11 winning seasons during that span. His team’s high-octane, hard pressing defensive style was a hit with fans, as they drew crowds of over 2,000 over a dozen times in venerable Gaither Gymnasium, three times packing the fabled venue with 3,000-plus fans.In fact, twice during the mid-1980’s, FAMU led the State of Florida in attendance for eight years straight.Seven years his teams won 18 or more games, and during a scintillating five-year period from 1984 to 1988, his clubs won 19 or more games four times.
Twice he led the Rattlerettes to 21-win campaigns in 1986 and 1988.Under Clayton, FAMU swept the inaugural Trans America Athletic Conference (then New South Women’s Conference) regular season and tournament titles in 1985-86, going on to become one of the league’s dominant teams over the next four years, appearing in the finals each season.Clayton’s women’s teams’ successes came against top quality competition such as Louisiana Tech, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas Tech and South Carolina.
by Alvin Hollins, FAMU SID
Clayton, also served as an assistant men’s basketball coach under the late Willie Booker, when the Rattlers won the 1991 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title. He led FAMU on a seemingly improbable MEAC title run in 1998-99, sweeping four games in five days in the league tournament, vaulting into the NCAA Tournament against top-ranked Duke University and securing FAMU's first-ever NCAA appearance.
This accomplishment made Clayton one of only two coaches in the history of Division I basketball to win conference championships in both men and womens basketball. He is the ONLY one to do it at the institution he graduated from.
Clayton is number 2 in career victories for basketball at Florida A&M University behind his former Head Coach "Roc" Oglesby.
Among the top performers on his Rattler squads was 7-1 center Jerome James, the school’s single-season and career leader in blocked shots, who has played in the NBA since 1998; forward Derrick Magee, who has risen through the ranks of collegiate athletics and is now an Associate AD at North Carolina Central University; versatile guard/forward Sean Black, who played several seasons in Europe, and point guard Morris Scott, who ranks among the school’s all-time leaders in steals and assists, and is a now a rising star in the coaching ranks and is the interim Head Basketball coach at Southern University, Anthony Abernathy, manager turned point guard, who serves as Executive with Nike Sports
by Alvin Hollins, FAMU SID.
The Boosters grew in annual membership under the leadership of Mickey Clayton. Under then athletic director, Bill Hayes, the Boosters showed exceptional growth and were able to provide unprecedented support for the FAMU athletic department.
They also were the first group to take out a loan to make a purchase of a state-of-the-art basketball scoreboard and football scoreboard at the request of the University and paid off the loan early.
This provided state-of-the-art video displays for Bragg Memorial Stadium and the new Alfred Lawson Multipurpose Center, to enhance the atmosphere at FAMU Football and Basketball events.
(Shown is the first and only pep rally at the Governor's Square Mall, sponsored by the Rattler Boosters).