History of UT

Plant Hall
When The University of Tampa began classes on October 5, 1931, as Tampa Junior College, there were 62 local students, tuition was $120 per semester, and there was no building to call home. Almost two years later, on Aug. 2, 1933, UT found its permanent home in the old Tampa Bay Hotel and began its journey in earnest.

It has been a journey of alternating success and hardship, as the University has adapted and reinvented itself to meet new challenges. Beginning with Frederic Spaulding, who almost single-handedly forged his dream of a local University, to the present day as UT enjoys the greatest economic and academic expansion in its history under its 10th president.

Some would say it has been a bumpy ride, but all would agree it has been interesting. During that first year when, in the grips of the worldwide Depression, the University’s 700 surplus dollars were divided among the faculty as pay, and the University was accepting notes, insurance policies, and deeds on homes in lieu of tuition.

There were the war years, when military pilots were being trained in Tampa and GIs began returning from the war to go to school, and married couples and some faculty members lived in Plant Hall on the upper floors.

There was a huge struggle for accreditation, which lasted for 20 years and was finally achieved in December 1951. There were the glory days of our powerhouse football team, which struck fear into the hearts of our athletic rivals. Pajama parties, sock hops, parades, and second jobs were daily rituals.

The creation of the University of South Florida created another challenge, as many believed it would swallow UT. President David Delo arrived to take the University in another direction and began to expand the size of the campus, construct new buildings, and build enrollment.

Since 1933, UT has educated and placed thousands of alumni in positions of leadership at all levels of society around the world. Today, its future is brighter than it has ever been, as it continues to expand in terms of academic excellence, prestige, resources, and enrollment.

Information from Under the Minaret by Dr. James W. Covington
In the early years, The University of Tampa started as Tampa Junior College. In 1931, the school began varsity sports competition. A committee sought to name the school teams. Since St. Petersburg Junior College, nicknamed the Trojans, was intended to be the arch-rival, the name Spartans was selected from the ancient Greek Trojans/Spartans war. When the school moved into the Tampa Bay Hotel in 1933, head football coach Nash Higgens chose the team colors. Due to the fact that most of his players came from Hillsborough High (red & black) and Plant High (black & gold), Coach Higgens combined the colors of those two schools making the University’s colors red, black, and gold.

Click here for history of UT football, which was discontinued in 1974

University of Tampa Athletic Directors
1933-41 - Nash Higgins
1941 - Flucie Stewart
1942 - Joe Justice
1942-44 - Miller Adams
1945-46 - Jesse Keene
1946-48 - Miller Adams
1948-50 - Myron A. Gaddis
1950-51 - Paul Myers
1951-52 - Frank Sinkwich
1952-62 - Marcelino Huerta
1962-71 - Sam Bailey
1971-73 - Gus Dielens
1973-74 - Sam Bailey
1975-76 - Billy Turner
1976-85 - Bob Birrenkott
1985-88 - Fran Curci
1988-89 - Chris Catanach (interim)
1989-91 - Bill Wall
1991-99 - Hindman Wall
1999-present - Larry Marfise