Fabulous 50: Willis Casey Becomes Athletics Director

Willis Casey, NC State's Athletics Director, 1969-1986.  Photo by Ed Caram.

Willis Casey, NC State's Athletics Director, 1969-1986. Photo by Ed Caram.

Willis Casey (1920-1992) became NC State's athletics director 50 years ago.  Chancellor John Caldwell announced his appointment during a press conference on 23 April 1969.  Casey told the crowd assembled at the University Club, "I am looking forward with a great deal of enthusiasm to trying to fulfull the duties of this job."

Casey with Chancellor John Caldwell (center) and Athletics Director Roy Clogston (right), ca. 1968.
Casey (l), Chancellor John Caldwell (center), and Athletics Director Roy Clogston (r), ca. 1965.

During Casey's 17 years in the position he certainly did bring "a great deal of enthusiasm" in fulfulling those duties.  During that time, NC State won 49 ACC titles, two NCAA team titles, two AIAW (early governing body for women's sports) and 15 individual national championships.  And Casey certainly hired enthusiastic coaches, including Kay Yow (women's basketball), Lou Holtz (football), Jim Valvano (men's basketball), Dick Sheridan (football), Don Easterling (men's swimming), Bob Guzzo (wrestling), Rollie Geiger (cross country), Richard Sykes (men's golf), George Tarantini (men's soccer), and Mark Stevenson (women's gymnastics).

Casey with NC State All-american swimmers Pete Fogarasy (l) and Ed Spencer (r), ca. 1963
Casey with NC State All-American swimmers Pete Fogarasy (l) and Ed Spencer (r), ca. 1963.

Casey first came to NC State in 1946 as the swimming coach.  During the 23 years he served in that role, NC State won 11 Southern Conference and ACC swimming titles, nine AAU individual titles, and two AAU team titles, as well as produced four NCAA individual champions.  In the 1960s while still coach, he was also assistant to Athletics Director Roy Clogston.

Casey retired as athletics director (and from NC State) on 30 June 1986.  He was inducted into the NC State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.  Summaries of his illustrious career can be found in the 1986 Agromeck yearbook, the 2 July 1986 issue of the Technician student newspaper, and the gopack website (see also here).  More historical materials can be found on the NC State University Libraries' Rare & Unique Digital Collection site.