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April 14, 2005

Obituary: Walter P. Cummins

Walter P. Cummins, long-time assistant football coach and assistant athletics director here, died April 1, 2005, of congestive heart failure. He was 81.

Cummins served as an assistant football coach under three different head coaches from 1951 to 1966, coaching four first-team All-Americans and 32 National Football League draft picks.

He then served as an assistant athletics director from 1966 until his retirement in 1990.

Cummins enrolled as a student at Pitt in 1942, but his education was interrupted by military service from 1943 to 1946, when he returned as an undergraduate. He played football for the Panthers, earning three varsity letters.

Cummins graduated in 1949 and earned a master’s degree in secondary education a year later. Then-head football coach Tom Hamilton hired him in 1951.

Cummins helped found the Football Officials Association in the late 1960s, and served as the secretary/treasurer of the NCAA Division I major football independents for more than two decades.

Cummins is credited as a major force behind the founding in 1975 of the Eastern Eight basketball league, precursor of the Atlantic 10 Conference. He served as the Eastern Eight’s first executive secretary.

He also was instrumental in establishing the Eastern Wrestling League in 1976, serving as its treasurer until he retired from Pitt.

The athletics department honored Cummins in 1975 with the Pitt Varsity Club Award of Distinction.

He also served as vice president of Pitt’s Faculty Club for 15 years.

A graduate of Greensburg High School, Cummins lettered in football, baseball, wrestling and track. He was a member of the Westmoreland Athletic Club. In 1983, he was inducted into the Westmoreland County Hall of Fame.

Cummins is survived by his wife of 49 years, Dorothy of Monroeville; two daughters, Patricia Hau of Coudersport, Potter County, and Dorothy Bristow of North Huntingdon; a son, Walter of Murrysville; eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

—Peter Hart

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