Jan. 6, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. - Former Western Carolina head football coach and athletic director, the late Bob Waters, is to be inducted into the 2014 North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame as the organization announced its 2014 inductees Monday.
Waters, receiving the honor posthumously, joins eight others in this year's induction class including Eddie Biedenbach, A. J. Carr; Bob Colvin; Randy Denton, Lee Gliarmis, Marshall Happer, Rodney Rogers, and Frank Weedon (posthumously). They will formally be inducted during a banquet on Friday May, 9 at the Raleigh Convention Center.
"The achievements of this year's class of inductees enrich North Carolina's remarkable sports heritage, and they certainly earned the honor of joining the 300 men and women who have been previously enshrined," said Fredrick Reese, president of the Hall, in a written release. "This is our 51st class and we will have a program to celebrate this special time in our state's sports history."
Waters was inducted into the South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame in 1987, is enshrined in the Florida Citrus Bowl Hall of Fame, and was among the fourth induction class into the Western Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame back in 1993. The playing surface at the on-campus E.J. Whitmire Stadium was coined "Bob Waters Field" in his honor in 1985. Then, beginning in 1991-92, the Southern Conference named its Male Athlete of the Year Award after Waters.
Waters spent 20 years in Cullowhee between 1969 and 1988 and was a driving force in the success of the Catamount football program, and the advancement of the WCU Athletics Department to the NCAA Division I ranks.
Originally from Sylvania, Ga., Waters attended Presbyterian College where he had a highly successful three-year career as both a defensive back and at quarterback. He guided the Blue Hose to the 1960 Tangerine Bowl and was named the game's most outstanding player despite his team's loss in the game. That MVP performance also garnered him professional football looks as he was drafted both by the NFL's San Francisco and the AFL's San Diego Chargers in 1960.
Signing with the 49ers, Waters is considered the NFL's first-ever "shotgun" quarterback. He grabbed headlines during his rookie season when he threw three touchdown passes in an upset win over the Baltimore Colts.
Waters spent five seasons playing professional football - four as a quarterback and one as a defensive back. However, injuries mounted and in 1965, he opted for a career change, trading his cleats for a clipboard as he enrolled back at his alma mater, PC, and joined the coaching staff. After two years in Clinton, S.C., Waters again returned to the west coast as the wide receivers coach at Stanford University for the 1968 season.
Though he had just three years experience as an assistant coach, Waters was hired as the head football coach at Western Carolina prior to the 1969 season. It turned out to be one of the best decisions made in the University's history.
Waters and his Catamounts served notice of things to come in his first year. He guided the 1969 Catamounts to a 9-1 record with an exciting pass-oriented offense. A national ranking followed at the end of the 1972 season and in 1974, WCU advanced to its first NCAA playoff appearance.
The crown jewel in his 20-year coaching career had to be his 1983 team, which continues to serve as the standard bearer as one of the school's best as the team reached the NCAA I-AA championship game.
In 20 seasons at the helm of the football program, Waters guided the Catamounts to 116 victories, produced 13 All-Americans, 54 first-team All-Southern Conference selections and brought WCU more positive publicity than could ever be measured in monetary terms. Prior to his arrival, WCU had posted only five winning football records in 20 seasons, while 13 of Waters' 20 teams turned in winning ledgers.
During his 15-year tenure (1971-86) as athletics director, Waters led the growth and played a key part in the school's membership in the Southern Conference. He cultivated and rallied support for a new football stadium, which became a reality in 1974, and an impressive basketball arena as part of a multipurpose Ramsey Center, which was completed in 1986.
His coaching and administrative successes as well as his courage in his fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) were recognized throughout the country as his story was chronicled by every major print and electronic media outlet in the nation.
He was forced to step down as head football coach in March of 1989 and passed away less than three months later (May 29, 1989) at the age of 50.
For more information on the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, visit their website at http://www.ncshof.org/.