Topics: Alumni, President, Athletics

January 21, 2011

 Ball State graduate William A. McClain is receiving the university's President's Medal of Distinction Jan. 21. Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora and Indiana Sen. Luke Kenley are presenting the medal to McClain at a Noblesville High School basketball game.

The President's Medal is presented to individuals who have made significant and unselfish contributions to the advancement of the university, the community, the state or the nation. McClain, who earned his bachelor's degree at Ball State in 1950 and his master's degree eight years later, spent 38 years as a high school teacher and coach in Noblesville and Indianapolis. He was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

As a Ball State undergraduate, McClain competed in four sports—football, basketball, baseball and track—and earned a total of eight letters. In his senior year, he was a member of the 1949 undefeated football team and became one of only a few Cardinal athletes to letter in three sports in the same year.

McClain began teaching in 1950 with the Noblesville School Corp., where he also served as assistant football coach. In 1954, he became head coach and never experienced a losing season while posting a 65-22-2 record. His 1957 team went undefeated in 10 games and he was selected as the Indianapolis News Football Coach of the Year and the Ball State Alumni Coach of the Year. By the following season, he held the state's longest winning streak at 27 straight games.

That success was matched by those of McClain's track and field teams. In 12 seasons, his squads never experienced a losing season in dual or triangular meets. In his last five seasons at Noblesville, his teams won 52 meets and lost two, and in 1963, his coaching peers named him District Coach of the Year.

That same year, he left Noblesville to accept a teaching and coaching position at Indianapolis Ben Davis High School. In 1967, he retired from coaching and devoted his time exclusively to teaching, which he did until his retirement in 1988.

"While Bill McClain's coaching success has been well-documented, it is not the only reason his alma mater is recognizing him," Gora said. "Over and over again, people in Noblesville and Indianapolis, many of them Ball State graduates, speak lovingly of his honesty, commitment, integrity, and appreciation of hard work. In awarding him the President's Medal of Distinction, the university honors his status as teacher and role model for generations of students, his tireless enthusiasm for working with young people, and his commitment to instill in each of them the desire to excel."

By Greg Wright