The Columns

Former Football Coach Bobby Ross to Share Lessons in Leadership

— by on May 1st, 2008

The Lessons in Leadership Series, sponsored by the Office of Leadership Development at Washington and Lee University, begins on Tuesday, May 6, at 6:30 p.m. in Elrod Commons, room 114. Coach Bobby Ross will provide insights about leadership he has gained from over 38 years in head coaching at both collegiate and professional levels.

The series is free and open to the public.

After graduating from VMI in 1959, he served as a first lieutenant in the Army until 1962. After coaching stints at Colonial and Benedictine High Schools near Richmond, he returned to serve as assistant coach at VMI.

Ross later coached at The College of William & Mary, on a staff that included Lou Holtz and Marv Levy, before Ross took his first head coaching position at The Citadel in 1973. He also was head coach at the University of Maryland, Georgia Tech and the United States Military Academy. In 1990 while at Georgia Tech, he won the ACC Championship, a controversial split national championship, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award and the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award. He then left for the San Diego Chargers, with whom he won an AFC championship and Super Bowl XXIX.

Following the 1996 season, Ross became the head coach of the Detroit Lions, a position he held until the middle of the 2000 season, leaving due to blood clots in his legs. He did not coach between 2000 and the beginning of his stint at Army.

During his three year term as Army head coach, Ross improved their record to 9-25 (.265), from a program that had only four wins in its last 36 games. He retired from coaching in 2007. Coach Ross is one of the few coaches successful on both levels, making the leap from college to the pros.

Other speakers in the Lessons in Leadership Series include Bill Johnston, former president and chief operating officer of the New York Stock Exchange from 1996 to 2001, will speak on May 13. Local resident and professor emeritus Louis Hodges, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Professor of Journalism Ethics Emeritus at W&L, will conclude the series on May 20.