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Our History: Featured Alumni/ae: Roper, William W., 1907

Over the decades our graduates have developed distinguished careers as justices, members of Congress, ambassadors, educators, business people, and community leaders in many fields. This site features some of those late graduates.

Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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William Winston (Bill) Roper

Princeton football coach; Inductee, College Football Hall of Fame

Bill Roper was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 22, 1880. He attended the William Penn Charter School where he played football, basketball, and baseball. He continued all three sports in college at Princeton University. Roper was the sixth head football coach for the Virginia Military Institute Keydets located in Lexington, Virginia and he held that position for two seasons, from 1903 until 1904. His coaching record at VMI was 5–6. In 1906, Roper was the head coach at Princeton and held that position through the 1908 season. During his first stint as the head coach at Princeton, he compiled a 21–4–4 record. Roper coached football at the University of Missouri for the 1909 season, where his team went 7–0–1 and won the Missouri Valley Conference title. His second stint at Princeton lasted from 1910 to 1911. During that tenure, he compiled a 15–1–2 record.

In 1912, United States President Woodrow Wilson appointed Roper as the appraiser of merchandise at the Port of Philadelphia. He was also a member of the Philadelphia City Council and the local manager of the Prudential Insurance Company. In 1915 and 1916, Roper coached at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. In his two seasons at Swarthmore, the team compiled a record of 11–4–1. In his final stint at Princeton, Roper held his longest-tenured coaching position. His term lasted from 1919 to 1930, but ended due to an illness. His 89 wins are the most of any coach in the history of the program. Roper's Princeton Tigers football teams of 1906, 1911, 1920, and 1922 have been recognized as national champions. Roper died on December 10, 1933. He continues to hold the record for most wins by a Princeton coach. Princeton University's highest honor to a male athlete, the William Winston Roper Trophy, is named in his honor and awarded annually. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1951.

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