W. A. Lambeth

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Biographical details
Born (1867-10-27)October 27, 1867
Thomasville, North Carolina
Died June 24, 1944(1944-06-24) (aged 76)
Charlottesville, Virginia
Alma mater University of Virginia
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1892–1922 Virginia

William Alexander Lambeth (October 27, 1867 – June 24, 1944)[1][2] was a medical professor who was the first athletic director at the University of Virginia. He is often called "the father of intercollegiate athletics" at the university.[3][4]

Lambeth was integral in the foundation of the Southern Conference[5] and once a member of the Football Rules Committee. He was the namesake of Lambeth Field; the "Colonnades" where the university used to play football before the building of Scott Stadium. He was also a student of architecture. The Lambeth House, currently used by the Curry School of Education, used to be his residence.[6]

Early years[edit]

Lambeth was born October 27, 1867 in Thomasville, North Carolina, the son of a major in the Confederate Army.[2][7][8] He was of English ancestry, with forebears from the part of London known as Lambeth.[7]

University of Virginia[edit]

After graduating from local Thomasville High School, he attended the University of Virginia and received his M. D. in 1892. He had also studied German, physics, chemistry, geology, and biology.[7] He then ran the school's gymnasium while seeking his Ph.D.[8] He received the Ph.D in June 1898.[7]


In between, he studied at the Harvard School of Physical Training–from which he took a degree in 1895.[9]

University of Virginia faculty[edit]

Lambeth was a professor of Materia Medica and Hygiene, Head of the Department of Physical Education, and Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds at his alma mater.[6][10] He worked on the faculty in one capacity or another for 40 years.[1]


He worked as athletic director as early as 1892 and was a medical adviser on the Virginia Cavaliers football team. He led reforms as part of the Football Rules Committee from 1910 to 1921.[11] He and John Heisman were two who pushed for four quarters rather than two halves to avoid injuries.[12]

In 1888, Lambeth was president of the American Athletic association, and in 1893 he was vice president of the department of physical education at the World's Fair.[7]


Lambeth was also a student of architecture with interest in the style of Thomas Jefferson,[4] writing a study of the subject, and of various Italians. "He was interested in all things Italian."[9]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Lambeth Memorial Plaque". 
  2. ^ a b Annual Report - Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Volumes 39-40
  3. ^ Dan Heuchert (June 6, 2013). "Plaque to Honor Lambeth's Pivotal Role in U.Va. Athletics, Football's Development". Retrieved April 9, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "William Alexander Lambeth". College Topics. July 8, 1944. 
  5. ^ "Virginia Sportswriters Name 16 Athletes To Hall of Fame". The Bee. February 9, 1956. p. 22. Retrieved April 9, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ a b "Lambeth House". 
  7. ^ a b c d e "William Alexander Lambeth". Men of Mark in Virginia. 5: 249 – via Google books.  open access publication – free to read
  8. ^ a b Kevin Edds (June 7, 2013). "Lambeth: Virginia's Father of Athletic". Retrieved April 9, 2015 – via TheSabre.com. 
  9. ^ a b "University of Virginia Board of Visitors Meeting of the Buildings and Grounds Committee" (PDF). May 22, 2012. p. 8. 
  10. ^ Corks and Curls. 15. p. 110. 
  11. ^ "Dr. Lambeth Added Much To Intercollegiate Football Rules". College Topics. July 8, 1944. p. 5. Retrieved April 10, 2015 – via Google news archive.  open access publication – free to read
  12. ^ Kevin Edds. "Football's Founding Fathers".