Johns Hopkins Gazette: June 26, 1995

Bob Scott Retires From Hopkins Athletics After 41 Years
'We've All Been Part of the Team'

Mike Field
Staff Writer

     "After 41 years as a Blue Jay athlete, coach and athletic
director, Bob Scott takes his spikes--and thousands of memories--
into retirement."

     Bob Scott likes to tell a story about the Hopkins varsity
football teams in the years 1953 to '56. 

     John Bridgers--who would eventually end up a hall-of-famer
for his coaching skills--was guiding the Blue Jays through a
series of less than spectacular seasons. "They were 2-6 the first
three years, and 4-3-1 the last," says Scott, who was coaching
the freshman football team and acting as a varsity scout in those
days. "John Bridgers was building his team, but you certainly
wouldn't call him successful in the wins and losses at that

     And yet, when the Athletic Department hosted a special
reunion of those teams as a way of honoring Bridgers several
years ago, about 40 former players returned. 

     "All of these guys came back for this party," recalls Scott,
"and you'd have thought they were 8-0 one year, 7-1, at worst
6-2. You'd have thought that these guys were world-beaters." In
fact, they did considerably more losing than winning on the
gridiron, but years later, "the wins and losses didn't count at
all," Scott says. "It was the camaraderie that existed among
these people that really mattered."

     As Bob Scott prepares to leave Hopkins after 41 years of
service--the last 22 of which he served as the university's
athletic director--it is stories like that which come to mind
when he is asked what the past four decades have been about.

     Winning? Sure, winning is important, and Scott departs with
a strong record of accomplishment in that regard. 

     As the head coach of the Blue Jays men's lacrosse team from
1955 to 1974 Scott won seven national championships, including
the NCAA in his final year. As athletic director, Scott assembled
a coaching staff that has won more than 60 percent of its
contests over the past five years. Men's lacrosse, fencing,
swimming, baseball and basketball have all recently won league or
conference championships, and the men's soccer team advanced all
the way to the NCAA championship game.

     Women's athletics, although considerably newer to the
Homewood campus, have done exceptionally well since the first
women's varsity teams (fencing, tennis and swimming) were
introduced in 1973. Today there are 13 women's varsity teams,
with swimming, lacrosse and field hockey each capturing
conference titles in recent years and going on to distinguish
themselves in NCAA championship competition. The women's
basketball program has also emerged as one of the nation's
elites, as the Blue Jays advanced all the way to the "Sweet
Sixteen" in last year's tournament.

     But it's not the winning that concerns Scott. "As long as
you provide good leadership with good coaches the winning will
take care of itself," he says. Rather, it is the teamwork,
cooperation and mutual respect arising from the discipline of
athletics that he believes make the programs so valuable to
students--and to the university. 

     "Athletics does so much for people who are involved," he
says. "I've got a bunch of letters from people tied in with my
retirement, and the theme of how important it was to them in
their college experience to play on a team comes out again and
again. The most meaningful thing to them--and these are letters
from extremely successful surgeons and business people and
[people from] all walks of life--is not what they got in the
classroom, but what they got on the athletic field."

     Scott is no stranger to that experience. An outstanding
athlete himself, he arrived as a freshman at Hopkins in 1954 with
a reputation for athletic accomplishment at Baltimore's Forest
Park High School. In his college career he played football and
lacrosse for the Blue Jays, eventually serving as team captain
for both sports. In his senior year he earned honorable mention
All-America honors and was chosen captain of the South All-Stars
in that year's North-South Lacrosse Classic. He received the
Penniman Award for outstanding play as a midfielder and at
graduation was awarded the Barton Cup for outstanding student

     A member of ROTC while in school, after graduation Scott
left Baltimore for a two-year stint in the Army. He was stationed
at Elgin Air Force Base, where he served as an instructor in the
Army's ranger swamp training program. There, he came in contact
with the legendary Arthur "Bull" Simons, whose exploits freeing
American business personnel in Iran would one day be chronicled
in the best-selling book On Wings of Eagles.

     "Just being around that guy was a thrill," says Scott of his
former camp commander. "It was a terrific opportunity for me to
be exposed to ranger training and to men like Art Simons." 

     The Army, however, was not where Bob Scott's heart truly
lay. He knew he wanted to coach lacrosse, and he figured the best
way to set about it was to send out some letters to local high
schools asking for a job. But before the first letter was ever
sent, Scott received a call from Marshall Turner, then athletic
director of Hopkins, inviting him to take over as head coach of
Hopkins lacrosse just as soon as he was out of the Army. 

     "I was, needless to say, stunned," says Scott, recalling his
telephone conversation with Turner. "Here was this 23-year-old
greenhorn lieutenant being offered the job opportunity of a

     He accepted the offer, and soon found himself back in
Baltimore, back at Hopkins, coaching varsity lacrosse--and
freshman football and basketball. In those days coaches were
typically responsible for two or more sports that changed with
the seasons. 

     "I was as involved, interested, fired-up coaching freshman
football as I was when the lacrosse season began," he says. "In
those days, in the fall it was football, in the winter it was
basketball and in the spring it was lacrosse. It wasn't what it
is today, with the year-round involvement in fall lacrosse,
winter weight training and they start around the first of
February with a game as early as March 3."

     All that has changed in the years since then, and today
coaches are rarely asked to oversee more than one sport. "Now
there's summer league, and recruiting and going to summer camps--
all of that has made it a year-round thing," Scott says. "In my
day it was a wonderful experience to have a group of football
kids and get wrapped up in that. I really didn't start the
lacrosse stuff until the middle of basketball season. It wasn't
the year-round specialization. Kids would play two sports,
usually a fall and a spring sport. Half of our lacrosse team
played on the football team. It was each sport in its season and
it was great fun."

     Although an increasing degree of specialization means fewer
and fewer college athletes can compete in more than one varsity
sport, Hopkins' Division III athletic program is still an adjunct
to campus life, rather than its central focus, and that is
precisely where Scott believes it should remain. 

     "The professionalism that exists at the Division I level has
not percolated down to Division III," he says. "The Division III
level is the healthiest of the levels of intercollegiate
athletics. Our people play for the sheer enjoyment of it. Our
coaches don't require three night meetings a week and so on. We
work as hard on the field, and our coaches are just as serious,
but the emphasis on money running the whole show isn't there."

     As an athletic director, Scott believes his life was made
simpler--purer almost--by the university's commitment to amateur
athletics: "That Division I stuff, you've got to win to bring the
money in. Thank goodness Division III is, without question, what
athletics should be: kids playing, people who want to watch come
and watch it, normally there's no charge in Division III. It's
just a healthy situation. I really feel good that I never had to
worry about finances as an athletic director because we're
budgeted the same way as the Chemistry or Physics Department.
That's the way to go, for sure."

     The emphasis on playing rather than winning allowed Scott
the opportunity of making many friends during his four decades at
Hopkins. On June 10 more than 730 of them showed up for a
farewell banquet held at the Hunt Valley Marriott. ("When you've
been around 41 years you get to know a lot of people," says Scott
modestly.) It was a long night full of speeches and remembrances
and no fewer than nine speakers rose to say how Bob Scott had
touched their lives for the better. For all that, it is perhaps
surprising--or perhaps not--what Scott finds most important about
all the fuss.

     "The response that has been most important hasn't come from
the heroes," he says. "It's been the subs, the last man on the
bench, the managers and others who have said they were made to
feel as important and as much a part of the team as the
All-Americans. I really feel good that our people have made
everyone feel part of the team. They think back on their time
with warm feelings and that's important to me. That's what
athletics is all about."

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