George L. Wigton
George Wigton is a longtime role model of successful academic and athletic leadership
George Wigton served Bates College from 1965 until his retirement in 1996. During that time he was Bates’ longest serving coach of men’s basketball (20 years), and at 26 years the longest serving coach of men’s tennis. He coached men’s soccer and women’s tennis. He was instrumental in bringing squash to Bates, and served as head coach for men’s and women’s squash. For the 10 years between 1974 and 1984 he was Assistant Director of Athletics.
George’s early career reflects his Buckeye origins. He was an All-Ohio basketball player, and all-conference in the Cleveland Southwestern Conference in basketball, football and track. His basketball team at the U.S. Naval Base in Norfolk, Va., was All-Navy champion. He was on the varsity basketball and track teams at Ohio State, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1956.
George’s work in higher education began at the University of Connecticut, where he was assistant basketball coach, assistant football coach and assistant track coach. During the time he served as interim head coach of basketball, his team was the Yankee Conference champion and made it to the NCAA tournament. Little wonder that Bates was interested in him, and lured him away in 1965.
George’s Bates tennis team placed third in NCAA Division III that year, and won the NESCAC championship in 1988.
George’s leadership and talent have also been recognized by his peers. He is an honorary life member of the New England College Basketball Coaches and received their Alvin “Doggie” Julian Award in 1980-81. The Maine Basketball Coaches and Writers Association named him Man of the Year in 1986-87. He was made an honorary life member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 1992. He was NCAA East Region Division III Coach of the Year in tennis in 1996. George was inducted into the National Collegiate Hall of Fame in squash in 1996.
To this day, George Wigton serves as mentor to Bates coaches and alumni, and a role model of successful academic and athletic leadership. Alumni and friends have endowed the George L. Wigton Scholar Athlete Award that supports a student who exemplifies the qualities Coach Wigton embodied. Nominees for this award must have a “B” average or better; demonstrated leadership qualities reflective of Coach Wigton’s lifelong commitment to the values of athletics participation; and a willingness to participate in a research project that links sport and education.