Gill in 1933 OSC yearbook
May 1, 1901|
|Died||April 5, 1966
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Administrative career (AD unless noted)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1968
|College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006
Amory Tingle "Slats" Gill (May 1, 1901 – April 5, 1966) was an American college basketball coach, the head coach at Oregon State University in Corvallis for 36 seasons. As a player, Gill was twice named to the All-Pacific Coast Conference basketball team. As head coach, he amassed 599 victories with a winning percentage of .604. Gill was also the head coach of the baseball team for six seasons and later was the OSU athletic director.
Gill is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. He is also honored as the namesake of Gill Coliseum, opened in 1949, venue for basketball, wrestling, and gymnastics at OSU.
Born in Salem, Oregon, Gill was the youngest of eight children and his father died when he was a child. His nickname "Slats" was given to him at age 12; he was swimming in a local pond one summer afternoon and upon exiting the pond, a buddy joked with Gill about his scrawny frame with his ribs protruding, which he said looked like slats in a picket fence. Gill was from then on known as "Slats."
Gill attended Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) in Corvallis. While at OAC, he played baseball and earned varsity letters in basketball from 1922 to 1924. A forward for the "Aggies" on their starting five, Gill was named to the All Conference team for the Pacific Coast Conference in 1922.
In March 1923, Gill was unanimously elected captain of the OAC basketball team by his peers for his 1923–24 senior season. He was named to the All-Pacific Coast Conference team for a second time following that 1923–24 season.
Gill met his wife, the former Helen Boyer of Portland, on a blind date at OAC in the early 1920s. The couple married in 1932. They raised two children, daughter Jane Gill (born 1933), and son John Amory Gill (1937–2014).
Basketball coaching career
With his all star basketball credentials firmly established, Gill determined to go into the coaching profession following graduation. Gill's first head coaching job was at a high school in Oakland, California. After one season coaching there, the popular former collegiate star Gill was able to win an appointment at his alma mater as an instructor of physical education and director of restricted gymnastics for the 1926-27 academic year. Gill was also tapped to serve as head coach of the OAC freshman men's basketball team and to help coordinate the school's program of intramural athletics and general gymnastics.
The 1926-27 freshman team proved to be a bit of a disaster, losing every game on its schedule, so in December 1927 Gill organized a mass try out for the 1927-28 squad. An incredible 106 aspirants responded to Gill's call to try out for the team, with the horde winnowed down to a squad of 25 through successive cuts.
In the summer of 1928, OAC's varsity head coach Bob Hager was fired by collegiate president William Jasper Kerr. Kerr did not need to look far for his replacement, promoting the 27-year old Gill from freshman to varsity head coach.
Under Gill the Beavers basketball team would come to be known for a fundamentally sound and defensively oriented style of play. On the other side of the ball, Gill was known for making use of a slow, methodical "percentage offense" built around the meticulous creation of short shots and free throw opportunities from a half court set. His teams were frequently involved in low-scoring defensive struggles.
In the years before video tape and legions of professional advanced scouts, Gill was regarded as a formidable game scout and adaptive defensive coach, the subject of a legend in the early 1940s that if "Gill has seen your basketball team in action, then his team will beat yours if the two are ever matched."
During Gill's 36-year tenure as head coach, Oregon State won five Pacific Coast Conference titles, four Northern Division championships, and a pair of Final Four appearances (1949 and 1963). His teams won eight consecutive Far West Classic titles, and Gill had 599 coaching victories with the Beavers, with a winning percentage of .604. For the duration of his convalescence, head coaching duties were assumed by assistant coach Paul Valenti.
As past president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Slats coached in the 1964 NABC All-Star Game.
When Gill retired from coaching in 1964, he became the OSU athletic director, a position he held for two years, until his death. He promoted assistant Valenti to replace him as head coach, and after the 1964 football season concluded with a Rose Bowl appearance on New Year's Day, head coach Tommy Prothro left for UCLA.
Gill hired Dee Andros of Idaho, who led the Beavers to two of their best seasons (1967 & 1968) on the gridiron in his eleven years as head coach and became AD himself in 1976. Andros brought assistant coach Bud Riley with him from Moscow, and his son Mike Riley (b.1953) was the Beaver head coach for fourteen seasons (1997–1998, 2003–2014).
Baseball coaching career
Death and legacy
In 1966, Gill was hospitalized in Corvallis on March 26 following what was described as a minor stroke. He remained in the hospital for ten days and seemingly made progress towards recovery until taking a sudden turn for the worse on the morning of April 5. Gill died at 3:25 pm that day at age 64. His funeral was held at Gill Coliseum and he was buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Corvallis.
Gill was the first OSU coach to include an African American player on the team. Norman Monroe was a walk-on and was the first black basketball player to play at OSU and played for the team for half of the 1960–1961 season. The first recruited, scholarship black athlete to be named to the OSU basketball team arrived only in 1966, when Charlie White was named to the squad.
Head coaching record
|Oregon State University (Pacific Coast Conference) (1928–1959)|
|1948–49||Oregon State||24–12||12–4||1st||Final Four|
|Oregon State University (Independent) (1959–1964)|
|1962–63||Oregon State||22–9||Final Four|
National champion Postseason invitational champion
- "Sports world mourns Gill's death". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. April 6, 1966. p. 1D.
- Jeff Welsch and George P. Edmonston Jr., Tales from Oregon State Sports. Champaign, IL: Sports Publishing, 2003; pg. ???
- "Salem Men are Awarded Letters at Corvallis", Oregon Statesman, vol. 72 (April 22, 1922), pg. 1.
- "Long-time Oregon State coach Slats Gill dead at 64". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. April 6, 1966. p. 14.
- "Coaches Rooks," Oregon Statesman [Salem], vol. 76 (Jan. 26, 1927), pg. 6.
- "Gill to Lead Aggie Five," [Salem] Capital Journal, vol. 45, no. 65 (March 16, 1923), pg. 2.
- "Oregon Gets Berth on Mythical Hoop Team", [Eugene] Morning Register, vol. 54, no. 134 (March 15, 1924), pg. 6.
- "Society, Clubs and Music", [Salem] Capital Journal, vol. 45, no. 295 (December 12, 1933), pg. 5.
- "'Slats' Gill Appointed," Eugene Guard, vol.70, no. 139 (June 21, 1926), pg. 8.
- "Beaver Rooks Swarm at Call," [Salem] Capital Journal, vol. 49, no. 287 (Dec. 2, 1927), pg. 6.
- Strite, Dick (January 14, 1939). "Oregon basketball team tops Oregon State in rough struggle, 31-26". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 6.
- "Gill jinxes Cards by watching game". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. March 9, 1942. p. 2.
- "Slats Gill," Sports-Reference.com, www.sports-reference.com/
- "Slats Gill leaves hospital with no guess of future". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. February 3, 1960. p. 10.
- "Slats Gill returns to Corvallis home". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). February 3, 1960. p. 3C.
- Cave, Ray (March 5, 1962). "Tea and empathy with Slats Gill". Sports Illustrated. p. 66.
- Applegate, Howard (February 3, 1964). "Retirng coach Slats Gill still without national flag". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). p. 6.
- Missildine, Harry (June 24, 1965). "OSU's Slats Gill was busy 'freshman'". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 16.
- "OSU Coaching Records," 2006 Oregon State Baseball Guide, pg. 60.
- "Gill reported in fair shape after stroke". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). March 26, 1966. p. 2B.
- "Gill fund established". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. April 7, 1966. p. 11E.
- "More than 1,000 at rites for Slats Gill". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). April 8, 1966. p. 1B.
- George Beres, "Basketball's Best Once Were Blackballed from the College Game," History News Network, April 3, 2006. Retrieved February 9, 2011.