Norman Shepard

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Norman Shepard
Current position
TitleHead coach
Biographical details
BornAugust 20, 1897
DiedAugust 22, 1977 (aged 80)
Sarasota, Florida[1]
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1923–1924North Carolina
Accomplishments and honors
1924 – Southern Conference Championship (tied)
1924 – Southern Conference Tournament Championship
1924 – Helms Athletic Foundation National Championship
1924 – Premo-Porretta National Championship

Norman W. Shepard (August 20, 1897 – August 22, 1977) was a head coach of various college athletics at several American colleges and universities. He is best known for being the only Division I college basketball coach to go undefeated in his first season coaching.[2] His 1923–24 Tar Heels team finished the season with a 26–0 record[3] and was retroactively named the national champion by the Helms Athletic Foundation and the Premo-Porretta Power Poll.[4][5]

Background and family[edit]

He was born Norman Westbrook Shepard, third son of Alexander Hurlbutt Shepard and Mary Augusta Westbrook.

Shepard attended the University of North Carolina and after graduating played minor league baseball for a time.[6] Before becoming a head coach, Shepard spent three years abroad in France during World War I in the United States army as an artilleryman.[6]

In 1928, he married Edith Ruckert, of Brooklyn, NY, in Peking, China.

Norman's family had various ties to athletics at North Carolina. His brother, Bo Shepard, became the head coach for North Carolina after Norman, and two of his other brothers, Caryle Shepard and Alex Shepard, played basketball for North Carolina.[7]

Coach of North Carolina Tar Heels[edit]

Shepard decided to accept the head coaching job for the Tar Heels while planning to attend law school on the side.[6]

When Shepard took over, the Tar Heels had been without a head coach for the previous two seasons.[8] Even though the Tar Heels had been without a head coach for the previous seasons, they had managed to win the Southern Conference Tournament at the end of the 1921–22 season and tied for first in the Southern Conference during the 1922–23 season.[9]

When Shepard took over the team, he inherited a well-rounded Tar Heel squad that included returning senior Cartwright Carmichael, who was the first North Carolina All-American in any sport, and Jack Cobb, who would later be named to the All-American team and would later have his number retired at North Carolina.[10] Shepard's North Carolina team earned the nickname the "White Phantoms" because of their fast playmaking and defense.[11]

The 1923–24 Tar Heels squad managed to win all 26 games they played that year.[11] Because there was no national post-season tournament, the Tar Heels final game was in the Southern Conference tournament against the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.[11] The Tar Heels managed to win the game 26–18.[11] The local news reported that hundreds of students at North Carolina "waited in the streets in front of telegraph offices and cafes" for news about the game and after the victory students "went wild" and set a bonfire on the athletic field.[11]

In 1936, the Helms Athletic Foundation retroactively awarded a national championship to the team since there had been no organization to award national championships at the time.[11] Currently Shepard holds the title of being the only head coach to go undefeated in his first year of coaching.[2][12]

Living abroad[edit]

After coaching North Carolina for one season, Shepard went to the Far East to work as a sales manager for Liggett and Meyer tobacco company.[6] While abroad, he played for and coached a basketball team in the Far Eastern Olympics.[7] Shepard married his wife while in China and returned to the United States after being abroad for five years.[13]

Return to coaching[edit]

After returning to the United States, Shepard took coaching jobs at Guilford College, Randolph College, Davidson College and finally Harvard University where he coached baseball, basketball and football.[7] He retired from being the head coach in 1968.[7]

Head coaching record[edit]


Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
North Carolina Tar Heels (Southern Conference) (1923–1924)
1923–24 North Carolina 26–0 7–0 T–1st Helms National Champion
Premo-Porretta National Champion
North Carolina: 26–0[14] 7–0
Guilford Quakers (Independent) (1928–1929)
1928–29 Guilford 6–12
Guilford: 6–12
Randolph–Macon Yellow Jackets (Virginia Conference) (1929–1936)
1929–30 Randolph–Macon 14–7
1930–31 Randolph–Macon 16–7
1931–32 Randolph–Macon 7–12
1932–33 Randolph–Macon 11–11
1933–34 Randolph–Macon 15–4
1934–35 Randolph–Macon 11–13
1935–36 Randolph–Macon 9–11
Randolph–Macon: 83–65
Davidson Wildcats (Southern Conference) (1937–1949)
1937–38 Davidson 10–12 4–11 11th
1938–39 Davidson 19–9 9–7 5th
1939–40 Davidson 8–13 4–11 11th
1940–41 Davidson 11–12 5–7 10th
1941–42 Davidson 12–13 3–8 13th
1942–43 Davidson 18–6 7–4 4th
1943–44 Davidson 16–7 3–4 6th
1944–45 Davidson 9–9 3–6 9th
1945–46 Davidson 13–12 5–9 12th
1946–47 Davidson 17–8 7–7 9th
1947–48 Davidson 19–9 10–7 5th
1948–49 Davidson 18–8 11–6 5th
Davidson: 170–118 71–87
Harvard Crimson (Ivy League) (1949–1954)
1949–50 Harvard 9–15 3–9 6th
1950–51 Harvard 8–18 3–9 6th
1951–52 Harvard 5–17 0–12 7th
1952–53 Harvard 7–16 2–10 7th
1953–54 Harvard 9–16 2–12 8th
Harvard: 38–82 10–52
Total: 323–277

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  • Powell, Adam (2002). University of North Carolina Basketball. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-4150-8.
  • Rappoport, Ken (2002). Tales from the Tar Heel Locker Room. Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 1-58261-489-X.
  • "2008-09 North Carolina men's basketball media guide". UNC Athletic Communications. Archived from the original on 2009-09-17.
  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b "NCAA stats" (PDF). NCAA. NCAA. p. 159. Retrieved 2009-09-23. Cite error: The named reference "ncaastats" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^ "North Carolina Tar Heels season-by-season results". Sports Reference LLC. 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  4. ^ "NCAA Division I Men's Basketball – NCAA Division I Champions". Rauzulu's Street. 2004. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  5. ^ ESPN, ed. (2009). ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia: The Complete History of the Men's Game. New York, NY: ESPN Books. p. 536. ISBN 978-0-345-51392-2.
  6. ^ a b c d Rappoport 2002, p. 13
  7. ^ a b c d Rappoport 2002, p. 14 Cite error: The named reference "Rappoport 2002 p=14" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference "Rappoport 2002 p=14" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference "Rappoport 2002 p=14" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  8. ^ Rappoport 2002, pp. 12–13
  9. ^ Rappoport 2002, pp. 14–15
  10. ^ Rappoport 2002, p. 11
  11. ^ a b c d e f Powell 2002, p. 16
  12. ^ Associated Press (December 16, 2006). "OSU's Sutton has Cowboys unbeaten". Amarillo Globe News. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  13. ^ Rappoport 2002, p. 14
  14. ^ 2007-08 North Carolina men's basketball media guide 2007, p.177