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William Roper (American football)

William Roper
Roper in 1909
Sport(s) Football, basketball, baseball
Biographical details
Born (1880-08-22)August 22, 1880
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died December 19, 1933(1933-12-19) (aged 53)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1899–1902 Princeton
Position(s) End (football)
Outfielder (baseball)
Coaching career (HC unless noted)



Head coaching record
Overall 112–38–18 (football)
8–7 (basketball)
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
4 National (1906, 1911, 1920, 1922)
1 MVC (1909)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1951 (profile)

William Winston "Bill" Roper (August 22, 1880 – December 10, 1933) was an American football, basketball, and baseball player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the Virginia Military Institute (1903–1904), Princeton University (1906–1908, 1910–1911, 1919–1930), the University of Missouri (1909), and Swarthmore College (1915–1916), compiling a career college football record of 112–38–18. Roper's Princeton Tigers football teams of 1906, 1911, 1920, and 1922 have been recognized as national champions. His 89 wins are the most of any coach in the history of the program. Roper was also the head basketball coach at Princeton for one season in 1902–03, tallying a mark of 8–7. Roper played football as an end, basketball, and baseball as an outfielder at Princeton, from which he graduated in 1902. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1951.

Roper served on the NCAA Football Rules Committee.[1]

Early life and playing career

Roper was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 22, 1880. He attended the William Penn Charter School where he played football, basketball, and baseball. He continued all three sports in college at Princeton University.[1]

Coaching career

Virginia Military Institute

Roper was the sixth head football coach for the Virginia Military Institute Keydets located in Lexington, Virginia and he held that position for two seasons, from 1903 until 1904. His coaching record at VMI was 5–6.

Roper had planned to study medicine, but was unable to, for health reasons. While a coach at Virginia, he studied law, and later in life he became qualified as an attorney.[1]


In 1906, Roper was the head coach at Princeton and held that position through the 1908 season. During his first stint as the head coach at Princeton, he compiled a 21–4–4 record.


Roper coached football at the University of Missouri for the 1909 season, where his team went 7–0–1 and won the Missouri Valley Conference title.

Return to Princeton

His second stint at Princeton lasted from 1910 to 1911. During that tenure, he compiled a 15–1–2 record.


In 1915 and 1916, Roper coached at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. In his two seasons at Swarthmore, the team compiled a record of 11–4–1.

Third term at Princeton

In is final stint at Princeton, Roper held his longest-tenured coaching position. His term lasted from 1919 to 1930, but ended due to an illness. He continues to hold the record for most wins by a Princeton coach. Princeton University's highest honor to a male athlete, the William Winston Roper Trophy, is named in his honor and awarded annually.[2]

Political and business career

In 1912, United States President Woodrow Wilson appointed Roper as the appraiser of merchandise at the Port of Philadelphia.[3] He was later a member of the Philadelphia City Council and the local manager of the Prudential Insurance Company. As a politician he worked successfully to repeal prohibition, though he himself was a teetotaller, and to change Pennsylvania's blue laws, which did not allow sports on Sundays.[1]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
VMI Keydets (Independent) (1903–1904)
1903 VMI 2–1
1904 VMI 3–5
VMI: 5–6
Princeton Tigers (Independent) (1906–1908)
1906 Princeton 9–0–1
1907 Princeton 7–2
1908 Princeton 5–2–3
Missouri Tigers (Missouri Valley Conference) (1909)
1909 Missouri 7–0–1 4–0–1 1st
Missouri: 7–0–1
Princeton Tigers (Independent) (1910–1911)
1910 Princeton 7–1
1911 Princeton 8–0–2
Swarthmore Garnet Tide (Independent) (1915–1916)
1915 Swarthmore 5–3
1916 Swarthmore 6–1–1
Swarthmore: 11–4–1
Princeton Tigers (Independent) (1919–1930)
1919 Princeton 4–2–1
1920 Princeton 6–0–1
1921 Princeton 4–3
1922 Princeton 8–0
1923 Princeton 3–3–1
1924 Princeton 4–2–1
1925 Princeton 5–1–1
1926 Princeton 5–1–1
1927 Princeton 6–1
1928 Princeton 5–1–2
1929 Princeton 2–4–1
1930 Princeton 1–5–1
Princeton: 89–28–16
Total: 112–38–18
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "BILL ROPER IS DEAD; NOTED IN FOOTBALL; Princeton Coach Until Three Years Ago Was Master in Dramatizing Training. HAD BEEN ILL 2 MONTHS As Member of Philadelphia City Council He Fought Blue Laws and Prohibition.". The New York Times. December 11, 1933. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Awards". Princeton Varsity Club. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Bill Roper Dies at 53". Pittsburgh Press. December 11, 1933. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 

External links

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