[UTA Magazine]


Legendary coach and athletic director dies

CR Gilstrap
Former coach Chena Gilstrap stands in front of the UTA athletic facilities that are named in his honor.
(Photo: Arlington Morning News)

Claude R. "Chena" Gilstrap, former athletic director and the most successful football coach in UTA history, died Aug. 9 at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif. Gilstrap, who served as AD for 22 years and was a member of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, suffered from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. He was 88.

When Gilstrap arrived in 1953, UTA was a two-year school known as Arlington State College. He guided the football team to Junior Rose Bowl titles, the equivalent of the junior college national championship, in 1956 and '57.

After UTA became a four-year institution in 1959, Gilstrap was instrumental in forming the Southland Conference, of which UTA was a charter member. In 1965, he led the Rebels, as they were known then, to a 6-3 record, was named SLC Coach of the Year and retired from the sidelines with an 85-40-3 record in 13 seasons at UTA.

In 1975, he retired as AD, and three years later he retired as chairman of the Department of Physical Education. The University's Athletic Department offices are housed in the Gilstrap Athletic Center, and meetings are held in the Gilstrap Room of Maverick Stadium.

"He's an icon for us, the founding father of our intercollegiate athletics program," said current UTA Athletic Director Pete Carlon.

Gilstrap is a member of the National Association of College Athletic Directors Hall of Fame, the Southland Conference Hall of Honor and the UTA Athletic Hall of Honor.

shim shim shim shim shim shim shim