Guilford College lost a legendary figure January 8 with the passing of Dr. Herbert T. "Herb" Appenzeller at age 92. His impact on Guilfordians and the field of sport law reaches back over half a century and will extend far into the future.
The public memorial service for Appenzeller will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 13, in Dana Auditorium on Guilford's campus. The Appenzeller family will hold a visitation at 5 p.m. Friday, January 12, at New Garden Friends Meeting. Burial will be private. The Appenzeller family requests memorial gifts be made to Guilford College, Wake Forest University or Chowan University.
In a 37-year Guilford career that started in 1956, Appenzeller's work produced countless scholars, athletes, and leaders in their fields. He served as a professor, coach, dean of students and, for 31 years, as the Quakers' athletics director. During his tenure, Guilford teams captured national titles in men's basketball (1973) and women's tennis (1981) and had runner-up results in men's golf (1985, 1986). His vision provided the impetus for the College to create one of the nation's first sport management majors in the early 1980s.
Tributes to the beloved professor and administrator are arriving at Guilford College from colleagues near and far.
"Herb will forever be remembered for the profound impact he had on shaping Guilford over his career here," said College President Jane Fernandes. "As Athletics Director, his vision sparked tremendous growth and success in our women's and men's teams, as well as the development of our athletic facilities. He brought positive recognition to the College through his pioneering work in sport management, sport law, and risk management. His legacy as a mentor to countless students will live on for generations to come."
"I know that I am sitting here today, as the Director of Athletics at the University of Arkansas, because of the incredible influence of Dr. A," Hunter Yurachek '90 said. "The direction he provided to me during my time at Guilford College and the mentoring and support he continued to provide in my life after Guilford helped shape who I am today as a leader, father, and husband. I will fondly remember my time with Dr. A and will never forget the impact he had on my life."
The Consummate Coach, Administrator and Teaching Mentor
Appenzeller came to Guilford as Athletics Director, full Professor (of Latin), Head Football Coach, and Assistant Men's Basketball Coach in 1956 following eight years as a coach, teacher and Director of Athletics at Rolesville (N.C.) High School, Wakelon (N.C.) High School and Chowan College. He played football at Wake Forest University and competed in the first Gator Bowl, a victory over the University of South Carolina. A 1948 Wake Forest graduate, Appenzeller later earned a master's degree from Wake Forest and a doctorate in education administration from Duke University.
After seven seasons leading the Quakers' football team, Appenzeller turned his attention to his roles as Athletics Director and Professor. He hired Jerry Steele and Jack Jensen, who turned the Quakers' men's basketball team into a regional power that captured the College's first national championships, the 1973 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) title. He worked with Jerry's wife, Kitty, and Gayle Currie to establish Guilford's first intercollegiate teams for women. The Quakers found early success as Gayle's volleyball teams won consecutive state titles in 1975 and 1976 and her tennis team shared the 1981 NAIA national crown.
When Appenzeller was hired, Guilford fielded five varsity teams, all male. When he retired as athletics director in 1987, the Quakers had 13 teams, including six women's squads. During his tenure, Guilford student-athletes earned 106 All-America commendations. Quakers' teams captured 31 conference titles and appeared in 29 national tournaments in six different sports. Guilford's physical plant saw the addition of the Armfield Athletic Center, Ragan-Brown Field House, Haworth Fields, and the McBane Baseball Field. In 2006, the Armfield Athletic Center playing surface was named Herbert T. Appenzeller Field.
A Game-Changer in Education
"People knew him for athletics, but he was respected by the faculty," said Dave Odom '65, who played football for Appenzeller before embarking on a successful collegiate men's basketball coaching career. "Even to this day, as good as a coach as he was, he was even more revered for his approach to education. He started the sport law curriculum at Guilford, and that's spread across the country."
Under Appenzeller's leadership, Guilford became one of the first colleges to offer a sport management major. At the time, there were roughly 20 such programs across the nation, and Guilford's was one of the first anywhere with a focus at the undergraduate level. After his 1993 retirement as Guilford faculty, Appenzeller served as the school's Jefferson-Pilot Professor of Sport Management Emeritus and taught graduate courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Appalachian State University.
Calvin Hunter '92, one of Appenzeller's former sport management students, returned to campus this month as an Associate Professor of Sport Management. "Dr. A always let his light shine," Hunter recalled. "He touched so many lives throughout his career and never steered away from helping you. I could call Dr. A for advice or help about anything and, true to form, during the past year he was one of my biggest supporters as I contemplated returning to Guilford to lead the program he started."
National Impact, Lasting Legacy
A nationally respected author, Appenzeller wrote or edited 28 books, including an anecdotal history of Guilford Athletics, Pride in the Past. He was president of Appenzeller and Associates, a sport law and risk management consulting group that conducted reviews and made presentations for hundreds of colleges, universities and other organizations. Since 1990, he edited the respected sport law newsletter From the Gym to the Jury, named for his groundbreaking 1970 book.
A Newark, New Jersey, native, Appenzeller was a member of no fewer than eight halls of fame, including the NAIA Hall of Fame, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Guilford College Athletics Hall of Fame and the Wake Forest University Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was inducted into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which recognizes North Carolinians who have demonstrated exemplary service or made an exceptional contribution to the state or their communities. He received Distinguished Service Awards from both Guilford College and the N.C. High School Athletic Association.
"He personified the meaning of a true friend," Odom said. "He was dedicated to every student and athlete that he ever had an opportunity to mentor, teach or coach. He loved Guilford College. And he loved its people. He loved what Guilford stood for, and he never wavered in his support of Guilford."