Lawlor seated at desk

Photograph of Glenn J. (Jake) Lawlor seated at desk, 1954. Photo courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno, Libraries. UNRA-P3628-00014

Glenn “Jake” Lawlor came to Nevada from Iowa in 1926, to attend the University of Nevada, Reno, where his older brother had already been for a year.1  He was a fiery competitor in football, basketball and even baseball during summer breaks. He would remain in the Battle-Born state to coach and teach at Virginia City High School, and eventually to coach back at the University in Reno.  He was renowned for being a tough coach who maintained a high level of respect from all of his players.  He carried this tenacity and passion for UNR sports into his next role with the University: athletic director.  Even in this occupation, Lawlor is remembered as being a tremendous competitor and advocate for the University’s athletic program.2
As the University of Nevada grew in size, so did the athletic program’s potential and possibilities. As athletic director, Lawlor understood that he would have to guide his program carefully into the future if it was to survive. In referencing the transition from being in the Far Western Conference (FWC) to the West Coast Athletic Conference (WCAC), he stated that, “These things take time, and I know people are edgy and they can’t wait, but if you’ve been in this business as long as I have, or others, you know that to build, you have to build carefully. And you have to build strongly.”3 Fully understanding the perspective of being a player and coach at the University, Lawlor’s primary objective as athletic director was to put together competitive teams; without competition, he believed there was no integrity or purpose to the whole process.4 It was this mindset that allowed him to be patient in cultivating the program, making sure a slow development occurred, and not a rapid development which the University wouldn’t have been able to keep up with.

  1. Trent, John. Legacy: 100 Years of Athletics at the University of Nevada, 1898-1998, a Look at 100 Years of Nevada Tradition, 70. Reno, NV: U of Nevada, Dept. of Intercollegiate Athletics, 1988. Print.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Glenn Joseph “Jake” Lawlor: Oral Autobiography of an Iowa Native, with a Close-up View of
    Nevada Athletics, 1926-1971,” 55. Interview by Mary Ellen Glass. University of Nevada:
    Oral History Archive. 2012. Accessed March 3, 2016.
  4. Ibid.

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