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Former Commissioner Walt McPherson Passes At Age 96

Jan. 15, 2013

SAN BRUNO, Calif. --- Former West Coast Athletic Conference Commissioner Walt McPherson died on January 12 at the age of 96 in Santa Rosa. An immensely talented multi-sport athlete, McPherson was also the winningest coach in San Jose State basketball history and a Legend in the University's Sports Hall of Fame.

"Walt McPherson's work as the WCAC Commissioner during the conference's formative years helped the West Coast Conference to become what it is today," said WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich. "We are saddened to hear the news of the passing of one of the Conference's original leaders."

Upon graduation, McPherson was named to the San Jose State coaching staff. In a 20-year coaching career, Mr. McPherson was regarded as a sound tactician, a builder of character with high moral and ethical standards, and, above all, one of college sports' great gentlemen.

McPherson was the head coach of the men's basketball, baseball and men's golf teams and an assistant football coach. In his 17 seasons as the men's basketball coach, the Spartans had a win-loss record of 264-208. San Jose State advanced to the third round of the 1948 NAIA national championship, the second of 1949 NAIA national championship and the 1951 NCAA Western Regionals.

McPherson remains the only San Jose State men's basketball coach to direct three Spartan teams to 20-win seasons (1948, 1949, 1950). His players included All-Americans Stu Inman and Carroll Williams, who would go on to coaching careers at San Jose State and Santa Clara, respectively; Bobby Crowe, who went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters; Jack Avina, who would be named head coach at the University of Portland; and San Francisco 49ers great Billy Wilson.

McPherson was also a 1939 San Jose State graduate that earned eight varsity letters - three each in baseball and football and two in basketball. He was a fullback for the 1936 through 1938 Spartan teams that compiled a 27-7-1 under Coach Dudley DeGroot and was captain of the 1938 team that finished with an 11-1 record.

After retiring from coaching, McPherson served as the San Jose State athletics director in 1960 and the director of physical education from 1960 through 1968. While the San Jose State director of physical education, he also was the commissioner of the West Coast Athletic Conference (now known as the West Coast Conference).