Roar, Lion, Roar: A Celebration of Columbia Football

People > Coaches > Bill Campbell

Bill Campbell and Tom Penders

Newly hired Columbia Football Coach Bill Campbell hugs newly hired Columbia Basketball Coach Tom Penders, 1974.

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Bill Campbell, CC 1962, MA 1964, LLD 2015

Arriving in the fall of 1958, Bill Campbell came to Columbia from the small town of Homestead, PA in order to play Ivy League football. He wore #67 on his wiry 165-pound frame, playing guard and linebacker from 1958 to 1961 and regularly facing linemen 20, 30 and 40 pounds heavier than him.

Campbell was captain of the 1961 football team, which won the only Ivy League title in Columbia’s gridiron history. He got a Master’s degree in education from Teachers College, while working as an assistant coach to Aldo "Buff" Donelli. He then worked as an assistant football coach at Boston College before returning to serve as head coach of the Lions from 1974 to 1979. As head coach he tried to instill some enthusiasm into the players, the student body and the alumni for a team that had not seen a winning season since 1963. Despite his energy and best efforts, his tenure was marked by six losing years. Losses that kept piling up, a lack of support and the pressures of recruiting led Campbell to announce his resignation in the middle of the 1979 season.

After leaving Columbia, Campbell eventually headed to Northern California and a highly successful career in Silicon Valley. He became a University Trustee in 2003 and was appointed board chair in 2005. Over the next decade, Campbell helped guide Columbia through a period of growth that included the Manhattanville expansion, a record-breaking capital campaign, the creation of the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) and Global Centers, and the opening of the Campbell Sports Center. Campbell became chair emeritus of the Trustees in 2014 and received an honorary degree in 2015.

When news of Campbell’s death in April 2016 reached Columbia, the flags on the playing fields at Baker were lowered to half-mast and the number 67 was painted on turf on either side of home plate at Robertson Field. No member of any Columbia varsity sports team will ever wear the number again.

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