Gross dies at 90; reached NCAA tourney as player, coach

Updated: August 8, 2007, 4:11 PM ET
Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Elmer Gross, who coached Penn State to the 1954 Final Four and reached the NCAA tournament as both a player and coach, has died. He was 90.

Gross died June 29 in Chandler, Ariz., near his home in Sun City, Ariz., a Penn State athletics spokesman said Wednesday.

He played three seasons at Penn State and was the Nittany Lions' leading scorer in his final season in 1942. Penn State finished 18-3 that year and made its first NCAA appearance.

Gross returned to Penn State in 1945 to begin his coaching career as an assistant under John Lawther. He took over as head coach in 1950, guiding Penn State to the NCAAs in 1952 and 1954 before retiring after five seasons.

Earning a reputation for his use of the full-court press, Gross finished with an 80-40 coaching record. According to Penn State, he was the first person to reach the NCAA tournament as both a player and coach.

Gross was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army during World War II, served in France and Germany and participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Gross received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart after being wounded during a 1944 battle.

He later earned a doctorate of education at Penn State, where he retired as a professor of physical education in 1978.

Gross is survived by three daughters, one son and two stepdaughters, as well as 10 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and two siblings. A memorial service is scheduled Saturday in Sun City.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press