Cameron Indoor fitting testament to namesake's contributions

Mar. 06, 2013 @ 09:32 AM

Cameron Indoor Stadium is perhaps the most famous college basketball arena in the country.  The Duke Blue Devils play on Coach K Court inside Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Every game is sold out, and the Cameron Crazies are among the most boisterous and passionate fans in America.  Duke rarely loses in its home arena.

Since it opened in 1940, there have been many outstanding performances by Duke players and opposing players in Cameron Indoor Stadium, and not many have been better than Ryan Kelly’S scoring 36 points against Miami last week. Dick Groat scored 48 points in 1952 against UNC in what was then called Duke Indoor Stadium. In that same game, but not getting as much acclaim because of Groat’s scoring output, Duke’s Bernie Janicki grabbed 31 rebounds, still a single-game record at Duke.

By the way, Duke beat UNC 94-64 that night. Janicki only stood 6’4” tall, but averaged 15 points and 16 rebounds per game in that 1951-52 season. Duke finished 24-6 under head coach Harold Bradley that year. Another great performance was by Duke’s Bobby Hurley in 1993 when he passed out 16 assists against Florida State.

Eddie Cameron is the man for whom Cameron Indoor Stadium is named. He is perhaps the one man who did more than anyone to establish Duke athletics as one of the premier programs in the country.  From the time he arrived on the Duke campus in 1926, when he was signed as a freshman football coach, Eddie Cameron remained at Duke in one capacity or another until 1972, an era spanning 46 years.

In 1929 Cameron was named head coach of the Blue Devil basketball team.  In 14 seasons, his teams won 226, which stood as the record for most wins by a Duke basketball coach until Mike Krzyzewski won his 227th game.  Of course, Coach K has gone on to win over 900 games in his career at Army and Duke.  Also during Cameron’s basketball coaching career at Duke, they won three conference championships. 

But basketball was not Cameron’s only job, as he served as an assistant coach for the football team under another Duke legend, Wallace Wade.  While Cameron was an assistant, Duke experienced its greatest success as a football program, winning numerous conference championships and playing in two Rose Bowls.

Cameron resigned as basketball coach in 1942 after his most successful season.  That year, Duke finished 22-2 and won the Southern Conference championship.  The 22-2 record remained Duke’s highest winning percentage until 1986.  Also in 1942, Wallace Wade resigned as head football coach to volunteer for World War II.  He asked Coach Cameron to assume the head coaching duties, and Cameron accepted.  Under Cameron from 1942 to 1945, Duke was 25-11-1, which included a victory in the 1945 Sugar Bowl over Alabama 29-26.  Immortal sportswriter Grantland Rice described this game as “the greatest bowl game ever played.”  Possibly even better than the bowl victory, at least to many Duke fans, was that Duke was 4-0-1 against its archrival, the University of North Carolina, during Cameron’s years as head football coach, including two wins in one year, 1943.

In 1946 Cameron accepted the job of athletic director at Duke, a position in whch he would remain until his retirement in 1972.  In this position, Cameron really established himself as a legend at Duke.  In fact, a sports publication, the Blue Devil Weekly, now called Go Duke The Magazine, selected Cameron as the Blue Devil of the Century, basing its pick on the fact that Cameron did more than anyone else for Duke athletics from 1900 to 2000.

Cameron was a leader in the creation of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which was established in 1953.  Seven teams: Duke, UNC, NC State, Wake Forest, Maryland, Clemson and South Carolina pulled out of the Southern Conference to form the ACC, which is now one of the best athletic conferences in the nation, especially in basketball. Another great achievement of Cameron’s as athletic director was the building of the Duke Golf Course, which became, and still is, one of the best in the country.

After Cameron announced his retirement in 1972, Duke Indoor Stadium was renamed Cameron Indoor Stadium in his honor.  There is probably no better testament to Cameron’s contributions to Duke than this famed basketball stadium.