William H. Spaulding

William H. Spaulding
Spaulding from 1928 UCLA yearbook
Sport(s) Football, basketball, baseball
Biographical details
Born (1880-05-04)May 4, 1880
Melrose, Wisconsin
Died October 12, 1966(1966-10-12) (aged 86)
Los Angeles, California
Playing career
1903–1906 Wabash
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1907–1921 Western State
1922–1924 Minnesota
1925–1938 Southern Branch / UCLA
1913–1922 Western State
1911–1921 Western State
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1938–1947 UCLA
Head coaching record
Overall 145–83–15 (football)
77–43 (basketball)
63–18–4 (baseball)
Bowls 1–0
Accomplishments and honors
1 PCC (1935)

William H. Spaulding (May 4, 1880 – October 12, 1966) was an American football player and coach of football, basketball, and baseball. Spaulding coached at UCLA from 1925 to 1938. He had a successful tenure, compiling a 72–51–8 (.580) record. He also served as the head football coach at the University of Minnesota from 1922 to 1924. His record there was 11–7–4 (.591). He succeeded the legendary football coach Henry L. Williams. Prior to coaching at Minnesota he coached Western State Normal School (now known as Western Michigan University) from 1907 to 1921. Spaulding was the head football, basketball and baseball at Western State Normal. Spaulding attended Wabash College, where he played college football. In 1984, he was inducted into the Wabash College Athletic Hall of Fame.[1][2]

Early years

Spaulding was born in Melrose, Wisconsin, in 1880. He attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he played halfback for the football team and ran sprints for the track team.[3] He was a member of the 1905 Wabash Little Giants football team that defeated Notre Dame.[4]

In 1906, Spaulding briefly played professional football on Willie Heston's All Stars.[4]

Coaching and administrative career

Western State

In 1907, Spaulding was hired as the first coach and physical training director at Western State Normal School (later renamed Western Michigan University).[5]

He was the head coach of the school's football team for 15 years from 1907 to 1921, compiling a 62–25–3 (.706) record. His players at Western State included Frank Thomas who went on to be the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team from 1931 to 1946.

He was the head coach for the Western State Normal School men's basketball program from 1913 through 1922, compiling a 77–43 (.642) record, and finishing .500 or higher in each of his nine seasons.

He was also the head coach for Western State's baseball program from 1911 through 1921, compiling a 63–18–4 (.765) record.


In January 1922, Spaulding was hired by the University of Minnesota to replace Henry L. Williams as the school's head football coach. He was hired at a salary of $5,500 per year.[6] In 1924, Spaulding's Golden Gopers stopped Red Grange and handed Illinois its only defeat of the 1924 season.


In May 1925, Spaulding was hired by the University of California Southern Branch (later renamed UCLA) as its head football coach and athletic director. He signed a five-year contract with Southern Branch at a salary of $10,000 per year.[7]

Spaulding's 1935 UCLA team was a Pacific Coast Conference co-champion and handed Stanford's "Vow Boys" team its only defeat of the 1935 season. Spaulding later described the 1935 victory over Stanford as the greatest thrill of his career.[8] His players at UCLA included Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson. In 11 years as UCLA's head football coach, his teams compiled a record of 72–51–8

In February 1938, Spaulding announced that he would resign as UCLA's head football coach after the 1938 season. He had also assumed the role as UCLA's athletic director and stated that he would thereafter confine himself to those duties.[9]

Spaulding remained at UCLA as athletic director from 1938 to 1947. After 22 years at UCLA, Spaulding resigned in March 1947, indicating that he intended to go into business.[10]

Later years

Spaulding and his wife, Jess, had a son, William E. Spaulding, and three daughters, Jane, Frances, and Barbara. His wife died in 1953.[11] He later remarried to a second wife, Eleanor.[3]

Spaulding died in 1966 at age 86 at the Elizabeth Manor Sanitarium in Los Angeles.[3] He had been ill and in "a virtual coma" for several years before his death.[12]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall ConferenceStanding Bowl/playoffs
Western State Hilltoppers (Independent) (1907–1921)
1907 Western State 3–2–1
1908 Western State 3–3
1909 Western State 7–0
1910 Western State 4–1–1
1911 Western State 2–3
1912 Western State 3–2–1
1913 Western State 4–0
1914 Western State 6–0
1915 Western State 5–1
1916 Western State 5–1
1917 Western State 4–3
1918 Western State 3–2
1919 Western State 4–1
1920 Western State 3–4
1921 Western State 6–2
Western State Normal: 62–25–3
Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten Conference) (1922–1924)
1922 Minnesota 3–3–12–3–15th
1923 Minnesota 5–1–12–1–14th
1924 Minnesota 3–3–21–2–16th
Minnesota: 11–7–45–6–3
Southern Branch / UCLA Grizzlies (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) (1925–1927)
1925 Southern Branch 5–3–13–1–12nd
1926 Southern Branch 5–34–22nd
1927 UCLA 6–2–14–0–12nd
UCLA Bruins (Pacific Coast Conference) (1928–1938)
1928 UCLA 4–4–10–4T–9th
1929 UCLA 4–41–36th
1930 UCLA 3–51–4T–8th
1931 UCLA 3–4–10–3T–9th
1932 UCLA 6–44–23rd
1933 UCLA 6–4–11–3–18th
1934 UCLA 7–32–36th
1935 UCLA 8–24–1T–1st
1936 UCLA 6–3–14–3–14th
1937 UCLA 2–6–11–5–19th
1938 UCLA 7–4–14–3–1T–3rdW Poi
UCLA: 72–51–833–34–6
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


Season Team Overall Postseason
Western State Hilltoppers (1913–1922)
1913–14 Western State 4–4
1914–15 Western State 7–5
1915–16 Western State 9–7
1916–17 Western State 7–6
1917–18 Western State 8–4
1918–19 Western State 11–3
1919–20 Western State 8–3
1920–21 Western State 12–5
1921–22 Western State 11–6


  1. "Wabash College Athletic Hall of Fame". Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  2. "Wabash College Football Lettermen" (PDF). Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  3. 1 2 3 "Ex-UCLA Coach Bill Spaulding Dies". Los Angeles Times. October 14, 1966. p. III-1, III-2 via Newspapers.com.
  4. 1 2 Deke Houlgate, Jr. (August 29, 1953). "Sports Parade". Los Angeles Times. p. III-1 via Newspapers.com.
  5. "Western Normal". The Detroit Free Press. September 29, 1907. p. 23 via Newspapers.com.
  6. "Kalamazoo Man Selected as New University of Minnesota Grid Coach: Bill Spaulding Named to Succeed Williams". The Minneapolis Morning Tribune. January 24, 1922. p. 10 via Newspapers.com.
  7. Braven Dyer (May 24, 1925). "Spaulding Is Grizzly Coach: Minnesota Mentor Signs With Southern Branch". Los Angeles Times. p. 17 via Newspapers.com.
  8. "Sportraits". Los Angeles Times. September 1, 1947. p. II-7 via Newspapers.com.
  9. Braven Dyer (March 1, 1938). "Mentor To Become Director of Athletics: No Successor Named as Bruin Grid Chief Announces Retirement After 1938 Season". Los Angeles Times. p. II-9 via Newspapers.com.
  10. "Spaulding to Resign Bruin Job". Los Angeles Times. March 18, 1947. p. 6 via Newspapers.com.
  11. "Former Coach Bill Spaulding's Wife Dies at 68". Los Angeles Times. April 18, 1953. p. II-8 via Newspapers.com.
  12. "UCLA's Bill Spaulding dies". Kokomo (Ind.) Morning Times. October 14, 1966. p. 11 via Newspapers.com.
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