Beta Phi Sports History Project

The Beta Phi Sports History Project has made considerable progress over the past six months under the leadership efforts of Jerry Tolle, Linn Wallace and Lisle Payne.

“From an historic perspective, our research efforts indicate that approximately 300 Beta Phi athletes were varsity sports lettermen that played on University of Arizona athletic teams,” Tolle said.

Tolle and Wallace were varsity baseball lettermen who played for varsity coach  Frank Sancet, a Beta Phi, during the 1955-60 time period.

“Frank Sancet,  Bruce Larson  and Limey Gibbings were all Beta Phi Sigs that served as Varsity Head Coaches during the 1945-65 time period,” Wallace noted.

Tolle and Wallace also noted that while a number of Beta Phi athletes were All Americans or achieved national champion status, only Roger Johnson achieved All American status in two sports – basketball and baseball.

In late February a Sports History Steering Committee was formed to review the Sport History Project Goals and to determine the best means of presenting the background information collected during the research process. Committee members Jim Corbet, Rick Fried, Alan Hall, Dave Knott, Lance Long, Richhard Pesqueira, Jim Ward, Jack Wright and Kirk Young have been active participants in the discussion process. The Steering Committee meeting discussion in April has led to the following conclusions:

Sports History Project Goal: To provide Beta Phi Alumni, undergraduates and future guests to the new Beta Phi house with an interesting and historic perspective of Beta Phi sports history. The sports history project will involve attractive display cases and sports memorabilia which will be displayed in the public area of the new Beta Phi house. In addition to historic team photos (baseball, basketball, football and polo) from the 1930’s and ’40’s, the display cases and certain wall areas will be focused on the following:

  1. Beta Phi varsity sports lettermen recognition: All lettermen who received a varsity letter when they attended the University of Arizona will be recognized. Those athletes who played multiple sports, received special recognition for their playing skills or acted as team captain will receive special recognition;

  2. All American/national champions recognition: Athletes in this category include Tom Clarkson, Russ Gragg, Jim Donarski, Alan Hall, Roger Johnson and Seth Pepper. Photos of these athletes and descriptions of their achievements will be on display;
  3. Beta Phi varsity sports coach recognition: Limey Gibbings (varsity track and swimming) Bruce Larson (varsity basketball)  Frank Sancet (varsity baseball) were successful Beta Phi varsity coaches. A description of their coaching activities will be accompanied with appropriate pictures of their teams and track records;
  4. Special Donor Plaques:  Adjoining the sports history display cases will be a set of attractive plaques on display. The plaques will provide donor recognition for those donors that helped plan and fund the Sports History Project;
  5. Intramural championship sports banners: In addition to the varsity athlete and coaching recognition displays, it was suggested that the Beta Phi dining room walls be considered for the display of the popular historic intramural championship banners.

It is anticipated that members of the Sports History Steering Committee will be meeting with the Sigma Chi Building Corporation Board in May to discuss the current Beta Phi house construction plans and to review the Steering Committee recommendations. It is anticipated that the initial Sports History Project funding efforts will be undertaken in June following the completion of the first phase of the Beta Phi  House Capital Campaign.