1975 Charles Alan Wright: Coach and general manager of the Legal Eagles intramural football team.
1977 Captain Mike McElroy(third from left) and Legal Eagle teammates carry Coach Wright off the field to celebrate another undefeated season and championship.
1983 Coach Wright, game plan in hand, surveys his team and prepares for kick-off.
1983 Player/coach Tom McGarity makes the catch and helps march the Eagles to a score.
1991 Mr. Wright (center) and Professor McGarity (left) accept the 75th Anniversary Championship Trophy from RecSports Intramural Director Bob Childress (right) for winning the Law-Grad Championship. The Eagles went on to claim the All-University Championship.
2001 The Charles Alan Wright trophy will be presented each Fall to the All-University Intramural Football Champion.
As the university's most esteemed Professor, Charles Alan Wright accrued a multitude of accolades, awards, and recognition in his lifetime and will be remembered as one of the most respected legal scholars in the country. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said that Wright stood "like a Colossus … at the summit of our profession." Charles Alan Wright was also one of Recreational Sports' greatest supporters and single most involved participant.
Wright arrived in Texas in 1955 at age 28. During his first semester at the Law School, a group of students announced plans to form an Intramural touch football team. Wright, a football zealot who had played for Wesleyan University, wanted to know whether faculty could suit up. Sure, the students said, but would he coach, too? Wright agreed and christened the team the Legal Eagles.
During 45 years of Intramural football competition, the Legal Eagles assembled an extraordinary record. This record included 330 wins, 44 losses, and 5 ties, with the longest winning streak of 40 games and the longest losing streak of only a single game. Among the honors gained, the Legal Eagles won 27 of 35 Law-Grad Division championships and 7 of 14 All-University Championships. In 1991, Wright promoted himself to Athletic Director with the duties of Head Coach going to Professor Tom McGarity, past Assistant Coach. McGarity, a former Legal Eagle while at UT Law School, was recruited to Texas by Mr. Wright in 1981 as an environmental law professor and as the Eagles' Assistant Coach. The Legal Eagles' tradition continues today through the efforts of currently enrolled law students and Legal Eagle alumni.
The most successful football coach in Texas history believed that the game of football was a parallel to life. Wright liked to say that his rigorous practices were fun because, "winning was more fun that losing." Everyone on the Legal Eagle teams was expected to adhere to three fundamental rules espoused by Professor Wright:
"1. The team is not a debating society. Do not argue with the referees.
2. There should be no unnecessary penalties.
3. No one on the team stops until the whistle blows."
Mr. Wright's imprint on the university, Recreational Sports, and the Intramural football program is legendary. Perhaps his greatest service to The University was simply that once he came to Texas, he stayed at Texas for the rest of his remarkable career. Over the years, he accepted visiting appointments at Harvard, Yale, Pennsylvania, and Cambridge; but he repeatedly turned down offers and inquiries from other schools, instead lending his immense personal prestige to the UT Law School's climb to greatness.
Throughout his career, while assisting an embattled President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal to his absences from The University while teaching around the country or abroad, Mr. Wright always made time for his beloved Legal Eagles. He never failed to let his wife know precisely where he would be at game's end so she could notify him of the score. Even while serving as a visiting scholar at other universities, Coach Wright would travel to Austin in time for the annual Beer Bowl, that time each Fall when Eagle Exes would come back to play the current Legal Eagle team. A tale from the year that Mr. Wright visited Yale University tells all about the serious business of Intramural football. Charlie's friend, Professor Bernie J. Ward who was visiting UT that same year, not only took over Mr. Wright's home for the year, but also was asked to assume the duties of Head Coach. After reluctantly agreeing to the job, Bernie sent a note to Mr. Wright soon after he arrived at Yale that Fall regarding a conversation with a colleague, Pete Loiseaux.
Pete L.: "Bernie, you'll be moving into Charlie's house?"
BJW: "Yes, the dear fellow has left me his house, his office, his secretary, and his football team."
Pete L.: "His football team?"
BJW: "Yes. Well, he knows I have limited experience, and..."
Pete L.: "Never mind what he knows. I'll tell you this: You can leave his house in shambles, you can mess up his office, you can overwork his secretary, but, brother, you better win with his football team."
In 1968, under the tutelage of Bernie J. Ward, the Legal Eagles were not only undefeated and untied, but they were unscored upon, something no other Eagles team has ever achieved. Even from Connecticut, the mystique of Charles Alan Wright reached all the way to Austin, Texas.
Mr. Wright's legacy will live on at The University of Texas and with Recreational Sports through the establishment of the prestigious Wright Trophy. Each Fall, the All-University Intramural football champion will be recognized with a plaque that will adorn the Wright Trophy. This symbol of excellence will memorialize the spirit of Mr. Wright's love of the game of Intramural football.
He will be missed, but his legacy of inspiring participation, playing fair, and always giving your best serves as a lesson to every participant who becomes involved with the Division of Recreational Sports. We will long remember his distinguished manner, his indelible spirit, and his quest for perfection. The Charles Alan Wright Memorial and the Wright Trophy are truly representative of "The University's most esteemed professor" and "the winningest coach in Texas football history."
A special tribute to Charles Alan Wright is on display in the Gregory Gym Concourse.