montage
20th-Century Greats
In 1999 the Columbia Daily Spectator saluted Columbia's greatest athletes of the 20th century, as chosen by a group of distinguished alumni—journalists, athletic directors, historians, and trustees. Here are the 20 chosen ones, in alphabetical order, with biographical details added by Columbia 250:

A-F    |    G-L    |    M-W

John Azary, 1951
Basketball

Captain of the 1950–51 Ivy League champion Lions team that lost to Illinois in the NCAA tournament at Madison Square Garden, Azary earned All-Ivy and All-Metropolitan honors, and was selected the Ivy League's most valuable player, that year. He played professionally with the Boston Celtics.

Ben Atkins, 1993
Fencing

The NCAA men's foil champion in 1991 and men's épée champion in 1993, Atkins continued to fence after college and law school (1998), winning the 1998 senior world championship in men's épée.

Caitlin (Katy) Bilodeaux, 1987
Fencing

The dominant women's foilist of her time, Bilodeaux was two-time NCAA women's foil champion (1985 and 1987), and a four-time NCAA All-American. Selected by the NCAA as the woman fencer of the decade in celebration of the first ten years of women's athletics in the NCAA, she was also named first in Ivy League women's athletics in the first 25 years of that association's women's athletics.

Eddie Collins, 1907
Baseball

A star quarterback as well as a second baseman, Collins went on to become part of the Philadelphia Athletics' "$100,000 Infield" and a member of both the elite 3,000-hit club and the Hall of Fame.

Tony Corbisiero, 1983
Swimming

The 1983 Ivy League champion in the 1650-yard freestyle, the Flushing Flyer also holds the Columbia records in the 200-, 500-, 1000-, and 1650-yard freestyle. He was a member of the United States National Team and is a member of the Metropolitan Swimming Hall of Fame.

Chet Forte, 1957
Basketball

Arguably the best basketball player in Columbia history, Forte holds 12 school records, including season and career scoring. In his senior season, 1956–57, he scored 694 points in 24 games for a 28.9 average, and was named National Collegiate Basketball Player of the Year, narrowly beating out Wilt Chamberlain of Kansas. Forte is better known for his 25-year career at ABC Sports, where he became one of the most influential figures in modern sports media, directing coverage of two Olympic Games and helping to launch Monday Night Football.

Lou Gehrig, 1925
Baseball

After playing both football and baseball at Columbia, the legendary Iron Horse played for the great New York Yankee teams of the era. In addition to starting 2,130 consecutive games from 1921 to 1939, a major-league baseball record that stood for 56 years, Gehrig batted .340, hit 493 home runs and had 1,995 RBI. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in a 1939 special election.

Paul Governali, 1943
Football

Holder of the Columbia record for touchdown passes in one game (five), Governali was also one of the nation's punting leaders. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, he made All-American in 1942, the same year he won the Maxwell Memorial Award and was the first runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.

Ben Johnson, 1939
Track and field

The 1937 NCAA champion in the 200-yard dash, Johnson still holds the Columbia record in the 55-meter dash.

Lou Kusserow, 1949
Football

Kusserow scored two touchdowns in the 1947 upset of Army. He gained 1,992 yards rushing in his varsity career, and set school records with 45 career touchdowns, 270 career points and four interceptions in one game. After his professional career with the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference and the National Football League, Kusserow worked as a producer for NBC Sports.

Gene Larkin, 1984
Baseball

Larkin hit an Ivy League–record 19 home runs in 1984, going on to play with the American League's Minnesota Twins from 1987 to 1993. The Twins won the World Series in Larkin's rookie year and again in 1991, when his 10th-inning pinch-hit single in the seventh game scored the series-winning run.

Sid Luckman, 1939
Football

The Columbia tailback who became the first great T-formation quarterback as a professional with the Chicago Bears, the Brooklyn native played on four NFL championship teams with the Bears, including the one that routed the Washington Redskins 73-0 in the 1940 title game. Luckman is a member of both the College and Pro Football halls of fame.

Jim McMillian, 1970
Basketball

Amassing more than 1,700 points in his college career, McMillian led the Ivy League in scoring in 1969–70. A three-time All-League selection, he led the Lions to their only Ivy championship in 1967–68 (tied with Princeton). He played nine seasons in the NBA, winning a championship with the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers of Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, and Jerry West.

Cliff Montgomery, 1934
Football

Montgomery captained and quarterbacked Columbia's best team ever, the 1933 Rose Bowl champions. Also a punter, he made All-American and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Jon Normile, 1989
Fencing

As a member of four Ivy League fencing championship teams, Normile was the NCAA men's épée champion in 1988 and 1989. After his college days, he continued to fence, earning a place on the 1992 U.S. Olympic fencing team and winning a bronze medal at the 2000 World Cup.

Archie Roberts, 1965
Football

An All-American in football and baseball, Roberts set nearly every Columbia passing record as the Lions' quarterback before playing professionally with the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, using his football salary to pay for his medical education. When he graduated in 1965, he was only the second person in school history to letter in three varsity sports (baseball, basketball, and football).

Bruce Soriano, 1972
Fencing

A member of the 1971 men's NCAA championship team, Soriano won two Intercollegiate Fencing Association titles and was the men's NCAA sabre champion for three consecutive years (1970–72).

Cristina Teuscher, 2000
Swimming

A 1996 Olympic gold-medal winner as a member of the women's 200-meter relay team and the 2000 Olympic bronze-medal winner in the 200-meter individual medley, Teuscher was also the 1998 NCAA champion in the 500-yard freestyle and 400-yard individual medley, and the 2000 NCAA champion in the 400-meter freestyle and 400-meter individual medley. She earned the Honda-Broderick Award as the nation's top collegiate female athlete in 2000.

Marcellus Wiley, 1996
Football

The cocaptain of the Lions team that went 8-2 in 1996, Wiley was a Third-Team All-American, and a two-time All-Ivy honoree. In 1997, he was selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills, becoming the first Lion to be picked since John Witkowski was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1984.

John Witkowski, 1983
Football

Winner of the 1982 Asa A. Bushnell Cup for leadership, competitive spirit, contribution to the team, and accomplishments on the field, Witkowski holds 12 Columbia passing records, six total offense marks, and five Ivy League records. He remained a Lion after his collegiate career, being picked by Detroit in the sixth round of the 1984 NFL draft.



Roar, Lion, Roar
From Columbia University: A Celebration by Ric Burns.


THE GREATEST ATHLETES AND MORE
A Columbia Daily Spectator supplement.

Lou Gehrig
The Iron Horse

LOU LITTLE
One of Columbia's great coaches.

SID LUCKMAN
Football Hall of Famer.

Write Columbia's History
Columbia's history, as seen by those who have studied, taught, and worked here.

YOUR COLUMBIANS
Columbians list their favorites.
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