WVU Sports Hall of Fame
Roy "Legs" Hawley
Written by Greg Walker
First as a player and later as athletic director, the late Roy "Legs" Hawley impacted several generations of Mountaineer athletes. Hawley was responsible for giving West Virginia University the chance to compete in the 1942 National Invitation Tournament. He had built a close relationship with Madison Square Garden officials and New York area media. When tournament time rolled around, Hawley convinced tournament officials to give the eighth berth to the Mountaineers.
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The last-seeded WVU squad went on to snap top-seeded Long Island's 42-game winning streak with a stunning 58-49 overtime upset in the opening round. Then, after beating Toledo (another tournament favorite) 51-39 in the semifinals, WVU edged Western Kentucky 47-45 in the championship game. Hawley presided over a parade down Morgantown's High Street in honor of WVU's 19-4 NIT champions.
Hawley's association with the University started two decades prior to the NIT championship when the leggy youngster played baseball and basketball for the Mountaineers. A rare five-year letterman in baseball, Hawley was coached by the legendary Ira Errett Rodgers. His teams posted a 62-54 composite record, with a 17-11 mark in 1922 and a 13-10 record in 1925. He captained the 10-10 1926 squad.
He also played four seasons (three letters) of basketball for the Mountaineers under the tutelage of Coach Francis Stadsvold. The lanky center averaged 5.9 points per game for the 1924 team that posted a 14-2 record and was considered by many as the best team in WVU history prior to 1942. Hawley played in 60 career games and scored 256 points for a 4.3 average and captained the 1925 squad. The Mountaineers were 40-32 on the hardwood during his four seasons.
In 1926, following graduation, Hawley became the athletic director and baseball coach at Marshall. He returned to WVU in 1935 in the position of alumni secretary and was appointed WVU's fifth athletic director in 1938, succeeding Harry Stansbury. Hawley ushered WVU into its first all-sports alignment when the University joined the Southern Conference in 1950.
Hawley, who earned the nickname "The Hand" for his penchant of greeting everyone with a handshake, literally oversaw the rise of the Mountaineer football team; his office at old Mountaineer Field offered a spectacular view of games and practices. The Mountaineers won their first Southern Conference football title in 1953 with a 4-0 mark (8-2 overall) and played Georgia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day. The Mountaineers also captured league titles in men's basketball (1952), men's cross country (1953) and wrestling (1954) during Hawley's tenure.
Hawley was born February 12, 1901, in Bluefield, W.Va., and graduated from Bluefield High School in 1921. His legendary Bluefield athletic career was highlighted by a state record 66-point game in 1918 versus Williamson High. After college, Hawley married the former Helen Post in 1927, and had one son, William, a 1963 graduate of the University.
When he died while athletic director on March 20, 1954, the WVU baseball complex was renamed Hawley Field in his honor. He was inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1950 and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame in 1974. He is survived by his son, daughter-in-law Victoria, grandchildren Michael Hawley, Stephanie Blevins and Adam Mayor and his nephew James E. Gibson.