2014/05/24

Ohio State's legendary Athletic Director L.W. St. John


It's not everyday that you add a significant piece to your collection.  A friend of mine and a fellow Buckeye collector contacted me about a 1940 track contract for a home-and-home series between Ohio State and Michigan.  At the bottom, it was inked by Ohio State's legendary Athletic Director, OSU Varsity Hall of Famer, and Baskeball Hall of Famer Lynn Wilbur St. John and Michigan legendary football coach and later Athletic Director, Fielding Yost.  I had to have it.

St. John played football at Ohio State in 1900 and would later coach basketball and baseball for the Buckeyes.  In 1912, he was promoted to be the second Athletic Director in Ohio State's history after John Richards resigned after one season.  It would be a marriage that would last 35 years and would, ultimately, put Ohio State athletics on the national map.

His first hire may have been his best when he brought in former Wisconsin football player John Wilce to be the head football coach of the Buckeyes.  Ohio State had been known previously as the carousel of coaches, treading through 11 of them in just 22 years.  Wilce would remain at Ohio State for the next 15 seasons, earning the Buckeyes the national respect they had strived for a quarter decade to receive.  In 1919, Ohio State finally defeated Fielding Yost's Michigan squad for the first time in the storied rivalry.

St. John would serve as OSU's Athletic Director until his retirement in 1947.  Three years later, he'd pass away at the age of 73.

In 1956, just seven years after his death, a basketball arena was erected on north campus and named in his memory, St. John Arena.  The Buckeyes played their home basketball games in that venue from 1956-1998.

Mr. St. John also served on the NCAA Rules Committee with James Naismith from 1912-1937.  He was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1962 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

I'm very excited to add this piece to my Ohio State collection!

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