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Knox establishes history chair at Juniata

2/18/2005 - Auburn Tigers

SEATTLE -- As a student at tiny Juniata College in
Pennsylvania during the early 1950s, Chuck Knox fell in love with
history -- almost giving up coaching to become a professor.

After he logged 22 years as an NFL head coach, hindsight proves
Knox made a solid decision. But his passion for learning and a
connection with his alma mater always remained.

Knox recently donated $1 million to establish the Dr. Charles R.
and Shirley A. Knox Chair in History at Juniata, a 1,400-student
liberal arts school in Huntington, Pa., tucked into the
Appalachians 120 miles east of Pittsburgh.

"We finally got around to doing it,'' Knox told The Associated
Press in a telephone interview from his home in La Quinta, Calif.

Knox has long been a supporter of Juniata.

He gave $50,000 toward a sports and recreation center and was
chairman of a $1 million campaign to improve athletic facilities.
He also served on the college's board of trustees from 1978-99.

The 3,000-seat football stadium, built in 1988, is named after
Knox.

"He's clearly been involved in a good way for a long time,''
Juniata president Dr. Thomas Kepple said. "Chuck is multifaceted,
and he has meant a lot to us.''

But the history chair holds a special place.

Knox was a four-year letterman playing offensive and defensive
tackle at Juniata from 1950-53. He graduated with a bachelor's
degree in history in 1954 and began his coaching career the next
fall as a Juniata assistant.

After a few years coaching high school football, Knox considered
returning to the college as a history professor. He even began work
on a master's degree at Penn State, but his desire to coach won
out.

"During that time, I thought what I really wanted to do was
coach and not go into the academic area,'' Knox recalled. "I know
I made the right choice. It's what I wanted to do.''

Knox led three NFL teams to division titles. He became head
coach of the Los Angeles Rams in 1973 and won five straight NFC
West titles, never winning fewer than 10 games. Knox moved to
Buffalo in 1978 and produced a division title in 1980.

His longest stint came in Seattle from 1983-91. Knox took the
Seahawks to their first playoff berth in franchise history in 1983,
falling one game short of the Super Bowl.

The next year, Seattle won its first division title, and Knox
led the Seahawks to the playoffs in 1987 and 1988.

Knox finished his career with the Rams in 1994. Nicknamed
"Ground Chuck'' for his propensity to run the football, he retired
with a 186-147-1 record and four NFL coach of the year awards.

Nowadays, Knox spends his days reading about history and keeping
up with his four children and six grandchildren. His son, Chuck
Knox, Jr., is an assistant with the Minnesota Vikings.

The first recipient of the Knox Chair at Juniata is David
Hsiung, who won the 2000 Pennsylvania Professor of the Year Award
from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and
the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Hsiung, 43, has taught at the college since 1991. He's planning
to take a one-year sabbatical and pursue a research project, and
the increased salary from Knox's donation will help in completing
his research.

"My predecessors 50 years ago did something right to turn on
Chuck Knox to a love of history and a love of Juniata that 50 years
later, he was willing to donate this huge sum of money to the
college,'' said Hsiung, who grew up a Chicago Bears fan, rooting
against Knox's teams.

"It's a day-to-day reminder of a standard I need to reach in my
teaching.''