William Gerberding 1929 -2014, fmr UW President Was Architect Of Husky Football's Demise

In case you missed it, as I did, former University of Washington President William Gerberding died a couple of weeks ago, on December 27th. He was 85. Gerberding was UW's' President from 1979 - 1995.

With sincere apologies to The Bard:

"Friends, Alumni, Husky Nation, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them."

William Gerberding was the UW President who, after running off AD Mike Lude, hired Barbara Hedges in 1991 as Washington's Athletic Director over the unanimous objections of the UW's AD Selection Committee. Earlier, in 1985, he ran off UW's legendary Basketball Coach Marv Harshman (saying that he was "embarrassed" by Harshman), and, most infamously, was the man, who in the summer of 1993, stabbed Don James & UW Football in the back by re-negotiating a two-year Bowl ban in exchange for UW receiving more TV revenue in order to fund Hedges' pet program, Women's Softball.

Et tu Brutus? James resigned over the two-year Bowl ban because it was a reversal from the negotiated penalty DJ & the UW had earlier verbally agreed to with the Pac-10. That penalty consisted of a one-year bowl ban with less TV money coming in over two-years, plus some recruiting sanctions. When DJ found out via a phone conversation with Hedges that it was Gerberding who actually pitched this 11th-hour switch in meetings with the Pac-10 in San Francisco, (James was in Seattle), it outraged Coach James so much that he immediately resigned as he considered it a total betrayal by Gerberding and his lackey Hedges.

There was more to the resignation of course, because Coach James also saw the hand-writing on the wall; Gerberding was out to gut James' Football Program (like he earlier gutted Harshman's Basketball program). James' falling on the sword and resigning a month before the 1993 season opener against Stanford forced Hedges to immediately elevate Jim Lambright to Head Coach, thereby keeping the existing James staff intact for the 1993 season and protecting the Husky Football Program for at least awhile longer.

Of course, Hedges eventually did fire Lambo, and most of his staff, after the 1998 season in favor of her 37-year old Golden Boy, Rick Neuheisel, and the purge of the Don James model of how to run a hard-nosed and winning Husky Football Program was then complete.

I met Mr. Gerberding once socially at a reception in 1979 when he was first hired as UW President. But, as UW's Inter-Fraternity Council President, and then later as a member of my Fraternity's Alumni Corporation Board, I met with Gerberding's VP for Student Affairs, Ernest Morris, several times. Morris all but admitted to me that his main goal and aim, as directed by President Gerberding, was to gut the UW's Fraternity System.

Some, possibly many, will eulogize Bill Gerberding and praise him as a great leader during his term as UW's President. They will note that he started UW's successful fund raising campaigns. However true that may be, he is also directly responsible for the respective tailspins of UW's Football & Basketball programs. While Husky Basketball did recover, thanks to Hedges' reluctant hiring of former UW player, and Harshman protégé, Lorenzo Romar in 2002, UW Football is, sadly, still dealing with the consequences of Mr. Gerberding's 1993 back room machinations and his 1991 hire of Barbara Hedges as AD.

Many Husky fans & alumni openly state their disdain for Barbara Hedges and her legacy of allowing UW Football to slide during her controversial 1991 - 2004 tenure. But everyone should also remember that it was William Gerberding, as UW's President in 1993, who was the true architect of Husky Football's ungraceful fall from the summit as a National Championship contender.

Mr. Gerberding infamously stated publicly that he, as UW's President and an academic, hated having to deal with collegiate sports and wished collegiate sports did not exist. Mr. Gerberding was also instrumental in leading the continual internal political fight between "upper campus" and "lower campus" at UW, and as I said, he was no fan or ally of UW's Greek System.

From my perspective William Gerberding was a stereotypical close-minded academic snob who was openly anti-jock and anti-fraternity. He claimed to be a champion of diversity at UW, yet his actions show that he was prejudiced. Mr. Gerberding didn't understand or appreciate what the institutions of UW's Athletics and the Greek System brought to UW, and he openly held the students, staff, and alumni that were part of those proud UW institutions in total contempt.

It's always sad when someone passes, and my condolences and deepest sympathy go out to his family.

However, because he was also a public figure who served as a public employee at UW, it is totally appropriate, fitting, and proper to note, for the historical record, William Gerberding's full legacy at the University of Washington.

Rest In Peace Caesar.