Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jefferson Jackson Coleman

Jeff Coleman, Frank Thomas and Wallace Wade
For more than half a century, Jeff Coleman served as an administrator for the University of Alabama athletics department overseeing an era of massive growth made possible partially due to the success of the Crimson Tide football program.

A native of Livingston, Alabama, Coleman enrolled at the University of Alabama in 1924. The following year the 19-year-old signed on as the student secretary to head football coach Wallace Wade. He also served as student manager to the squad and regularly penned stories about the team for various newspapers including The New York Times.

Two years later Coleman, although still a student, was named the business manager for the athletic department, a position he held for the next 27 years. In 1954 he was named the director of alumni affairs which he remained until his retirement in 1974.

During his time as an administrator he served as UA's Director of Athletics, the secretary of the university's faculty committee on Athletics and the school's purchasing agent. He also founded the University Supply Store and the University Club.

In the late 1960s, Coleman chaired the committee that oversaw the planning and construction of Memorial Coliseum which opened in January 1968. The facility was re-named in his honor in 1988. He also handled several expansions to Denny Stadium during his time as an administrator, seeing it grow from an 11,000-person venue when it opened in 1929 to seating more than 60,000 by the time he retired.

A stalwart fan of the football team, Coleman saw his first game in 1924. Between that contest and 1970, Coleman only missed just two contests. At the time of his death in 1995 he was the only person to have attended every single one of the Crimson Tide's bowl games, starting with the 1926 Rose Bowl where he sat by famed sportswriter Grantland Rice.