Tom Hamilton (American football)

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Thomas James Hamilton (December 26, 1905 – April 3, 1994) was an American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and naval aviator who rose to the rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy. He served as the head football coach at the United States Naval Academy from 1934 to 1936 and again from 1946 to 1947 and at the University of Pittsburgh in 1951 and 1954, compiling a career college football record of 28–32–1. Hamilton was also the athletic director at the Naval Academy from 1948 to 1948 and at Pittsburgh from 1949 to 1959. From 1959 to 1971, he was the commissioner of the Athletic Association of Western Universities, renamed the Pacific-8 Conference in 1968 and now known as the Pac-12 Conference. Hamilton was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1965.

Tom Hamilton
Tom Hamilton (American football).jpg
Hamilton from 1956 Owl (Pittsburgh yearbook)
Biographical details
Born(1905-12-26)December 26, 1905
Hoopeston, Illinois
DiedApril 3, 1994(1994-04-03) (aged 88)
Chula Vista, California
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1959–1971AAWU/Pac-8 (commissioner)
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
Corbett Award (1971)
ECAC James Lynah Award (1971)
National Football Foundation Gold Medal (1971)[1]
Theodore Roosevelt Award (1976)
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (1978)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1965 (profile)
Military career
AllegianceUnited States United States
RankRear admiral
UnitUSS Enterprise
Commands heldCommander of USS Enterprise, July 10, 1944 – July 29, 1944[2]
Battles/warsBattle of Leyte Gulf, Battle of Iwo Jima

Early life and playing careerEdit

Hamilton was born in Hoopeston, Illinois, and attended high school in Columbus and Granville, Ohio. Hamilton attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1927. He was a key player on the 1926 Navy football squad that won a national championship with a 9–0–1 record.[3] The single blemish on that season was a tie with Army a game which has been described as "one of the greatest football games ever played."[4] He was also elected as class president during his time at the academy.[3]

Military careerEdit

Following graduation from Annapolis and commissioning as an ensign, Hamilton served the required period in surface ships before applying for flight training. He qualified as a pilot and flew a variety of aircraft, including patrol planes from San Diego in 1938 and 1939. During the war he served ashore and afloat, primarily in aviation training and aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. He was her flight deck officer and executive officer in 1943 and 1944, commanding the ship during a brief refit in 1944.

Coaching and sports administration careerEdit

In 1934, Hamilton became the 21st head football coach at the United States Naval Academy. He served as head coach at Navy for a total of five years—three years in his first stint from 1934 to 1936 and two more from 1946 through 1947. Hamilton moved on to become athletic director at Navy in 1948, a position which he held for two years before leaving to accept a similar position at the University of Pittsburgh. He served as AD at Pitt until 1959. Twice during his tenure at Pitt, in 1951 and again in 1954, he also was the head coach of the Panthers football team.

Hamilton left Pitt in 1959 to take on the role of founding commissioner of the Athletic Association of Western Universities, which later became the Pacific-8 Conference and eventually the Pac-12 Conference, a position which he held until 1971. He served as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, served 16 years on the U.S Olympic Committee, and was vice-president of the National Football Foundation.[3]


Hamilton received the Theodore Roosevelt Award[5] from the NCAA, the Stagg Award[6] from the American Football Coaches Association, the Gold Medal from the National Football Foundation, the Corbett Award from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics[7] and the James Lynah Award from the Eastern College Athletic Conference.[8] In 1976, he was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions.

Personal lifeEdit

Hamilton was married to Emmie Spalding in 1932 and is buried in the Naval Academy cemetery.[9]

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs AP#
Navy Midshipmen (Independent) (1934–1936)
1934 Navy 8–1
1935 Navy 5–4
1936 Navy 6–3 18
Navy Midshipmen (Independent) (1946–1947)
1946 Navy 1–8
1947 Navy 1–7–1
Navy: 21–23–1
Pittsburgh Panthers (Independent) (1951)
1951 Pittsburgh 3–7
Pittsburgh Panthers (Independent) (1954)
1954 Pittsburgh 4–2
Pittsburgh: 7–9
Total: 28–32–1

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Past Gold Medal Winners". NFF. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
  2. ^ "Commanding Officers". USS Enterprise CV-6 Association. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
  3. ^ a b c "Tom Hamilton". College Football Hall of Fame. Football Foundation. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
  4. ^ Schmidt, Ray (February 2004). "The Greatest Army -- Navy" (PDF). College Football Historical Society Newsletter. College Football Historical Society. XVII (II): 9–13. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
  5. ^ "NCAA Theodore Roosevelt Award Recipients". NCAA. Archived from the original on January 8, 2010. Retrieved 2009-02-17.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  6. ^ "Amos Alonzo Stagg Award – Past Winners". AFCA. May 17, 2006. Archived from the original on May 24, 2011. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
  7. ^ "James J. Corbett Memorial Award Winners". National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
  8. ^ "James Lynah Distinguished Achievement Award". Eastern College Athletic Conference. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
  9. ^ "USNA Cemetery Documentation Project" (PDF). September 21, 2005. Retrieved 2009-02-17.

External linksEdit