Willis Bates

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Willis Bates
Willis S bates.png
Bates c. 1907 at Fairmount
Sport(s) Football, basketball
Biographical details
Born (1880-01-26)January 26, 1880
Died May 13, 1939(1939-05-13) (aged 59)
Long Beach, California
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1905–1908 Fairmount
1914–1925 Southwestern (KS)
1905–1908 Fairmount
1913–1914 Fairmount
1914–1926 Southwestern (KS)
Head coaching record
Overall 80–49–12 (football)
179–79 (basketball)

Willis Sherman "Bill" Bates[1] (January 26, 1880 – May 13, 1939)[2][3] was an American football and basketball coach. He served as the head football coach at Fairmount College—now known Wichita State University—from 1905 to 1908 and at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas from 1914 to 1925, compiling a career college football record of 80–49–12. He also coached basketball at Fairmount (1905–1908) and Southwestern (1914–1926), tallying a career college basketball mark of 179–79.

Coaching career[edit]

Fairmount College[edit]

Bates was the sixth head football coach for Fairmount College, now Wichita State University, located in Wichita, Kansas and he held that position for four seasons, from 1905 until 1908. His overall coaching record at Fairmount was 28–8–3. This ranks him second at Fairmont/Wichita State in terms of total wins and third at Wichita State in terms of winning percentage.[4]

Night game[edit]

Bates was the head coach for the 1905 Cooper vs. Fairmount football game played on October 6, 1905 at Association Field in Wichita[5] The game was played at night under gas lamps as a demonstration by the Coleman Company and was the first night football game played west of the Mississippi River.[6] Fairmount won by a score of 24–0.[7][8]

Experimental game[edit]

Bates was the head coach for Fairmount in the 1905 Washburn vs. Fairmount football game that took place on December 25, 1905. The game was played against the Washburn Ichabods using a set of experimental rules and was officiated by then Washburn head coach John H. Outland.[9]

Southwestern College[edit]

Bates was the sixth head football coach at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas and held that position 12 years, from 1914 to 1925. His coaching record at Southwestern was 52 wins, 36 losses, and 9 ties. As of completion of the 2009 season, this ranks him third at Southwestern in terms of total wins and 14th at Southwestern in terms of total winning percentage. He is the longest-tenured coach in Southwestern's football history having served as head coach for 102 games[10] and was mentor for future Southwestern coach Art Kahler.[11]

Bates also served as the head basketball coach at Southwestern for twelve seasons, from 1914 until 1926, where the Moundbuilders were considered one of the best basketball teams in the nation at the time.[12] His basketball teams amassed a record of 164 wins and 59 losses (.735).[13]

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Fairmount Wheatshockers (Independent) (1905–1908)
1905 Fairmount 5–4–1
1906 Fairmount 7–1–2
1907 Fairmount 8–2
1908 Fairmount 8–1
Fairmount: 28–8–3
Southwestern Moundbuilders (Independent) (1914–1923)
1914 Southwestern 3–6
1915 Southwestern 4–4–1
1916 Southwestern 6–3
1917 Southwestern 6–3
1918 Southwestern 3–0
1919 Southwestern 7–3
1920 Southwestern 2–5–2
1921 Southwestern 5–4
1922 Southwestern 5–3–2
1923 Southwestern 2–5–2
Southwestern Moundbuilders (Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference) (1924–1925)
1924 Southwestern 4–2–2
1925 Southwestern 5–3
Southwestern: 52–41–9
Total: 80–49–12


  1. ^ "Bates, Bill Inducted 1961". Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Wichita State football coaching records Archived 2012-09-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Fairmount College Football Game Played By Light of Coleman Lanterns, October 6, 1905". Wichita State University Libraries' Department of Special Collections. Retrieved November 24, 2012. 
  6. ^ "FIRST LIGHT (1900 – 1929)". Coleman Company. Retrieved November 24, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Detailed History". Sterling College. Retrieved November 24, 2012. 
  8. ^ DeLassus, David. "Wichita State Yearly Results (1905)". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved April 4, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Ten Yard Rule a Failure". New York Times. December 26, 1905. 
  10. ^ Southwestern College Head Football Coaching Records Archived 2008-05-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ The Official National Collegiate Athletic Association football guide "The official rules book and record book of college football" (edited by Walter Camp) Can Sports Publishing Company, 1922
  12. ^ The Kansas Collection, Some Notes on College Basketball in Kansas, Harold C. Evans
  13. ^ Southwestern College Basketball Coaching Records

External links[edit]