February 21, 2013

National Football Foundation Honors Bill Sylvester

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Former Butler head football coach and athletic director Bill Sylvester has been named recipient of the Distinguished American Award from the National Football Foundation/College Hall of Fame Central Indiana Chapter.  He will receive his award at the organization’s annual banquet at the Indianapolis Colts Complex on Feb. 23.

Sylvester is one of the legendary figures of Butler football.  He was a four-year starting quarterback for the Bulldogs, 1946-49, and later served as an assistant football coach under Hall of Fame coach Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle.  Sylvester became Butler’s head football coach in 1970, and he went on to lead the Bulldogs to six conference championships and one NCAA Division II playoff appearance, the first in Butler history.  He was named conference “Coach of the Year” three times and NCAA Regional “Coach of the Year” once.  He stepped down as Butler’s football coach in the summer of 1985, finishing his career with an 84-65-2 record.  His 84 wins still stands second all-time at Butler.

Named athletic director at Butler in 1975, Sylvester played an integral role in bringing the 1980 NCAA Division I Basketball Championship to Indianapolis.  He also played a major role in the formation of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference and in the reorganization of the Indiana Collegiate Conference into the Heartland Collegiate Conference.  He further was actively involved in the formation of the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference and the North Star Conference for women’s athletics.

Well-respected in the collegiate athletic realm, Sylvester served as a president of the MCC and the Indiana Intercollegiate Coaches Association.  He was chairman of the NCAA Division II Football Committee, and he served on the American Football Coaches Association All-American selection board.  He also served as the first permanent commissioner of the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference, which later named its championship trophy the William L. Sylvester Trophy in his honor.

During the spring of 1990, Sylvester was named “Man of the Year” by the Indianapolis Old-Timers Club.

The National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award is among the highest offered by the organization.  Each year the NFF/College Football Hall of Fame pays tribute to a select few with awards of excellence for exhibiting superior qualities of scholarship, citizenship and leadership.  The Distinguished American Award is presented on special occasions to someone who has applied the character building attributes learned from amateur sport in their business and personal life, exhibiting superior leadership qualities in education, amateur athletics, business and in the community.

Previous recipients of the award include Indiana football legends Bill Lynch, Stewart “Red” Faught, Lamar Lundy, Jim Belden, Dick Dullaghan, Nick Mourouzis, Bill Mallory, Bob Terpening, Bill Bless, Dave Land, Bob Hicks, Max Andress, Jerry Brewer, Wayne Perry and Bob Springer.