Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Athletic Hall of Fame

Rankin Williams - 1963

Probably no other person’s life is so closely interwoven in the story of Southwestern than that of Rankin Williams. His father J.J. Williams was a member of the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature and sold several acres of his own land for which the college now is located.

Young Rankin was one of the state’s best college baseball, basketball and track competitors and earned letters in all fields of sport. Williams was a high point man in 1920 and 1922 in the state collegiate track meets, often scoring more individual points than a number of the teams. He held the state college record in both the high and low hurdles for a number of years.

As a senior, he took over as player-coach of the 1922-23 basketball team when coach John Lance left for Pittsburg State Teachers College. Williams would stay on as Southwestern’s coach for the next 42 years, coaching every major and minor sport the campus offered. He has been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Athletic Hall of Fame, NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame.

Baseball was his first love and his teams won 28 conference titles, including an amazing 19 straight. The 1957 team placed third in the NAIA tournament and followed as a runner-up in 1958. He won more than 535 games as a basketball coach and had eight conference championships. Prior to his retirement, he became the first college coach to collect more than 1,000 wins combining all sports.

He coached two of the Bulldogs greatest football teams, 1932 and 1933, both undefeated conference champions. His cross country teams from 1927 to 1931 went undefeated in numerous match races.

Many of the All-American teams prior to the 1960's were not recognized by an official governing body such as the NAIA or the NCAA.

The NAIA began to officially select All-Americans in basketball in 1951, football in 1954, and baseball in 1961.  From the NAIA website, the list below shows who played during the years that Williams was the coach and were awarded that honor.

Baseball

  • 1962 Bub Boyd, OF (2nd team)
  • 1963 Jim Suiter, OF (2nd team)

Basketball

  • 1954 Bill Davis (2nd team)