R. Jack Behringer
A native of Defiance, Ohio, R. Jack Behringer served as Grove City College’s athletic director and chairman of the Department of Physical Education for 40 years. Under his strong leadership, both the varsity, intramural and academic programming grew in numbers and popularity.
Hired as head football, basketball and track coach in 1956, Behringer rejuvenated the football program by leading the team to its first winning record (5-3) in eight seasons in 1957. That year, he earned named Tri-State College Coach of the Year.
The next year, the team finished 5-2 and running back Jake LaMotta became the program’s first All-American.
The 17-year “Behringer Era” in football was highlighted with the first undefeated season in 40 years in 1966, when his gridders finished 8-0-1.
Behringer succeeded Robert Thorn as athletic director in 1957. That year, there were eight varsity teams with 77 intercollegiate contests scheduled. Rifle, baseball and wrestling were added as varsity sports during the next several years and women’s teams attained varsity status in the 1970s. Volleyball began officially in 1973, followed by tennis, basketball and more – nine in all.
When he retired, there were 18 varsity sports and 257 contests during the 1995-96 academic year.
He helped engineer the College’s entrance into the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in 1984. Behringer also resurrected the College’s baseball program in 1959 and coached the team until 1988. He retired as the program’s all-time wins leader with 236. He also coached the basketball team to a 12-6 mark in 1956-57.
For years, he traveled to alumni meetings across the country serving as the favorite after-dinner speaker dotting his talks with humorous campus and sports anecdotes. Usually in the background, Behringer was a source for student attitudes and suggestions for the five presidents under whom he served. His official retirement date was September 1, 1996.