Inducted in 2013
Joe Gottfried attended Crestline High School from 1954 through 1958. He earned 12 varsity letters while in high school and made All State in football and basketball in 1957-58. Joe coached high school basketball for eight years in Ohio. His records were 91-42 at Bloomville and 20-4 at Lima Central Catholic. He was voted Ohio High School Basketball Coach of the Year in 1969. Joe coached at Ashland University for seven years; five as head coach. In his last three years at Ashland, his teams were 50-19, in the top 10 in the country, and made three straight NCAA appearances. Joe is in the Ashland University Hall of Fame.
Joe coached for three years at Southern Illinois University and served as Athletic Director at the University of South Alabama. Under Gottfried’s direction, Jag Athletics experienced success in competition as well as the classroom. He has had a profound impact not only on the school’s architecture with the development and improvement of numerous athletic facilities, but also on the community with the school’s recent addition of the football program. Gottfried was one of the key people involved in the process to make the sport the school’s 17th program, a decision that was approved by the Board of Trustees on Dec. 6, 2007, after initially leading discussions attempting to bring football to the campus in 2001.
During his tenure, the school claimed the Vic Bubas Cup, presented to the program that demonstrates excellence in the league’s now 19 sports, ten times in a 13-year span. In fact, no school in league history has earned the award more than USA. Also during Joe’s tenure, the University of South Alabama won 108 Sun Belt Conference Championships.
Gottfried’s impact can be seen across the USA campus, from the $30 million Mitchell Center, home to USA’s men’s and women’s basketball program, as well as offices for athletic department personnel, to Stanky Field, which underwent a $3.5 million renovation prior to the 2005 campaign, in addition to seeing the construction of a 4,000-square foot clubhouse in 1996, to the intramural fields on the West side of campus, where a $1 million field house was completed in the summer of 2009. The softball and soccer programs also moved into a new locker room and office complex that was constructed near the softball field, which was built prior to the program’s first-ever game in 2007, while the school made improvements to Jaguar Gymnasium, the Striplin Center, “The Cage”, the school’s soccer facility, the USA Track Complex, and the Bruce David Lubel Memorial Tennis Courts.
Gottfried helped bring the Sun Belt men’s basketball tournament to Mobile for the first time in 1991. It would go on to bring in the highest attendance at the event in 20 years. Overall, Gottfried helped bring 50 league championship events to Mobile during his tenure.
In addition to starting the Jaguar Challenge, a fund-raising golf event held each May, that has provided the athletic department with more than $100,000 in proceeds each spring, five years ago, Gottfried played a pivotal role in USA signing partnerships with the collegiate marketing firm IMG, as well as NIKE, that returned millions of dollars to the University. He was also a key person in revolutionizing the way tickets are sold to South Alabama athletic events. Behind his guidance, he led the development of USA's unique Athletic Ticket Sales Office, one of only a few college departments in the nation to employ such a sales team to solicit ticket sales and donations for USA athletic events.
“Joe Gottfried has spent nearly three decades furthering the mission and goals of the University of South Alabama and the Sun Belt Conference,” stated Wright Waters, Commissioner of the league. “During his tenure, he has been a firsthand witness to the expansion of the Sun Belt as it has become part of the Bowl Championship Series. Joe has been part of this growth every step of the way, including playing an integral role in USA’s addition of football as the institution’s 17th athletic program. He has provided invaluable leadership to South Alabama and the Sun Belt Conference, and the entire league thanks him for his service.”
Gottfried came to South Alabama as an Assistant Athletic Director after successful basketball coaching stints at Ashland and Southern Illinois. He served in the position from 1981-84 before being promoted to Director of Athletics.
In six seasons as a coach at Bloomville High School, Gottfried led the school to a 91-42 (68.4%) mark while earning AP/UPI Ohio Basketball Coach-of-the-Year accolades. He also was the head coach at Lima Central Catholic High School, helping the team to a 20-4 (83.3%) finish and a top-five ranking in the state’s final poll. Gottfried coached a pair of Ohio High School Basketball Players of the Year.
After accepting an assistant position at Ashland (Ohio) University, he was elevated to head coach in 1973. He would guide the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament and the top 10 of the final AP rankings in each of his final three seasons, posting a 60-19 (75.9%) mark during that stretch. Prior to coming to USA, he was head coach at Southern Illinois for three seasons.
Gottfried is a member of the USA Athletic Hall of Fame, the Ashland College Hall of Fame and the Crestline (Ohio) High School Hall of Fame.