Coach Harold Bradley Collection
Created by the Bradley Family, this collection includes newspapers, newspaper clippings and magazines containing articles about or relating to Harold Bradley’s career coaching high school and college basketball. There are also programs, pamphlets and memorabilia from games, yearbooks, correspondence, and photographs documenting his coaching career and activities, as well as some other areas of his life.
Biographical / Historical Sketch
Harold (Hal) Bradley (November 20, 1911 – November 6, 1985) was an American college basketball coach. In his 32-year coaching career he had no losing seasons. Bradley served as the head basketball coach at Hartwick College (1947-1950), Duke University (1950-1959) and the University of Texas at Austin (1959-1967). Peers called him the “gentleman coach” and Bradley was known for emphasizing sportsmanlike behavior on and off the court, in addition to his extensive knowledge of basketball.
Bradley attended Oneonta High School and graduated from Hartwick College in 1934, where he was a varsity athlete and member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. Bradley’s coaching career began at Georgetown High School (now Otselic Valley School District) where he taught science and coached both boys and girls basketball until a 1938-39 state ruling eliminated girls’ games, to his dismay. Bradley has attributed his decision to become a coach (instead of a doctor, as he had originally intended) to his experience coaching Georgetown’s “bloomer girls” during the 1937-38 season. Norwich High School’s Purple Tornado needed a coach, so Bradley answered the call in 1939. Initially the team played on an auditorium stage while waiting for a gymnasium to be built, but he was able to coach the school’s underdog teams to several championship tournaments. Bradley’s varsity record at Norwich was 100-41 in seven years.
Bradley returned to his college alma mater in 1947, joining the staff as director of recruiting and alumni affairs, athletic director, and basketball coach. Under his leadership the 1947, 1948 and 1949 teams compiled a successful 47-22 record and Bradley has been credited with establishing a basketball team culture that led to Hartwick having 33 winning seasons in 36 years—one of the best winning records in the Northeast at that time.
After three years at Hartwick Bradley moved to Duke as an associate professor of physical education and head basketball coach. During his tenure at Duke, Bradley coached basketball legend Dick Groat and led the Duke Blue Devils to their first NCAA tournament appearances. His nine-season lifetime record there was 168-77. Bradley later recalled that the biggest thrill of his career was winning the Dixie Classic in 1953. At the time he joined Duke, the university was still committed to a policy of racial segregation. All-white southern teams did not then host integrated teams from the north. On December 1, 1951, a game between Duke and Temple University was billed as a matchup between Dick Groat and Temple’s Bill Mvlky; however, in retrospect, the game’s real significance was that Temple had a black player named Sam Sylvester and it’s believed to be the first integrated official game to have taken place in the South.
In 1959 Bradley sought a new opportunity, saying “Texas looked like a good challenge [because] they had hung the coach in effigy twice the previous year.” Bradley became the Texas Longhorns men’s basketball coach in 1959 and led the Longhorns to two NCAA Tournaments after winning the Southwest Conference twice in eight years. His 1964–65 team also tied for the conference championship. Bradley’s 1960 and 1963 Longhorns teams made the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. The 1960 team finished fourth regionally, while the 1963 squad was third. In eight seasons, his lifetime record at Texas was 125–73. While at Texas Bradley coached two Olympians, Jay Arnett and Albert Almanza. The Texas Board of Regents agreed to desegregate its athletic programs in 1963 but per “gentleman’s agreements” recruiting practices were left up to the coaches. Bradley attempted to recruit black players including James Cash and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but the team remained all-white during his tenure.
In addition to coaching, Bradley served on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors, he was a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and he was active in community service organizations—he began the first Red Cross water safety program in Chenango County. In 1967 he retired from coaching and returned to upstate New York, where he spent the next 13 years serving in various positions at Adirondack Community College.
Scope & Content Note
This collection was assembled by Harold Bradley’s family, primarily by his wife, Dora Bradley, who clipped articles about her husband’s career and arranged them in scrapbooks by year. Although the scrapbooks deteriorated, the pages with attached articles are preserved in their original order. The collection materials span the years 1930 through 2009, following Bradley as a student athlete at Hartwick College, then his career first as a high school basketball coach and going on to coach at colleges and universities. Contents include mostly newspapers and newspaper clippings. There are also magazines with articles about or relating to Bradley’s career, as well as memorabilia such as certificates, awards, informational pamphlets, game schedules and programs. There is correspondence including many congratulatory notes (including several Western Union telegrams) sent to Bradley from associates, friends, fans and other well-wishers, often at high or turning points of his career. There are several photographs of Bradley and players spanning his college career, including ones from the Dixie Classic in 1953. The 1951-52 scrapbook contains a large photograph of a very excited Bradley at the Southern Conference Tournament. Two 2003 issues of Blue Devil Weekly are also included because they contain articles describing Duke basketball history and Bradley’s role. There are yearbooks from the years that Bradley coached and taught at Georgetown High School and Norwich High School.
The Archives holds other materials relating to Bradley in some Hartwick College collections, such as the Hilltops student newspaper and Oyaron yearbooks that document Bradley’s time at Hartwick as both a student and coach.
The collection is organized in five series. All materials within series are arranged chronologically.
Series I Scrapbooks, Programs, Publications, Photographs and Memorabilia
Subseries 1: Georgetown High School (1935-1939)
Subseries 2: Norwich High School (1939-1947)
Subseries 3: Hartwick College (1947-1950)
Subseries 4: Duke (1950-1959)
Subseries 5: University of Texas (1959-1967)
Series II Magazines with Articles Referencing Bradley (1951-1966)
Series III Correspondence (1947-1983)
Series IV Coaching Awards and Activities (1951-2009)
Series V Other Activities and Obituaries (1930-1985)
Paul F. Cooper, Jr. Archives
Oneonta, NY 13820