Today in NC State History: “Doc” Newton gets new appointment

April 21, 2015
By Chris Saunders

historyIconSpring football games have become a tradition at universities all across the country, replete with hype, rabid fans and even tailgating.

But in the spring of 1944, the coaching carousel was in full spin, as it was announced on this day 71 years ago that baseball and football head coach Williams “Doc” Newton was leaving NC State for the head football post at the University of South Carolina.

Newton had coached at NC State for seven years, compiling an overall record on the gridiron of 24-39-6. Before coming to Raleigh, Newton had spent four years coaching at Davidson College.

It’s not uncommon for coaches in today’s collegiate athletics to leap at an opportunity at a bigger school that will pay millions more than they were already making. But there was something different that factored in Newton’s decision.

Williams "Doc" Newton

Williams “Doc” Newton

“Soon after Newton moved to State there was considerable improvement in State College teams, and as each year passed they seemed to be getting better and better until, of course, the draft and other such agencies began to play havoc with the players,” The Technician reported. “It was a difficult situation, indeed, that Newton was faced with last fall when he was called upon to form a team out of recruits that had never even participated in intercollegiate athletics before.”

As H.A. Fisher, head of the athletics council, explained in the article, NC State was “an Army school whose trainees are not permitted to participate in intercollegiate athletics.” That restriction hampered Newton during those years of World War II, but at South Carolina, he saw a different opportunity.

“South Carolina has a Navy program, and the Navy is interested in carrying on sports,” Newton said. “I feel that the South Carolina position provides a better opportunity for carrying on my work.”

Newton would go 3-4-2 in his first and only year at USC, and Beattie Feathers would coach the first of his eight-year tenure at NC State in the fall of 1944.

 

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