|Dedicated to the Preservation of Athletic History at Colorado State University
|This is the
|Aggies to Rams: Men's Basketball 1903-2010
Men's Basketball Forms
The game of basketball never received the same
excitement and notoriety that football received from its
inception. The genesis of CSU basketball began in 1899
when the women of the college formed the first
intercollegiate basketball team for play in February
1900. Through the women's interest in the game, men
began to take notice as early as January 1901 that the
game invented for women could be a game for men as
well. When several women became sick and two
practice teams could not be formed, the men decided to
help and practice against the women and learn about
the new game.
In November of 1901, the "Junior Commercials", made
up of students from the college, formed an unofficial
team to begin competition with other men's basketball
teams. Although they did not play against other colleges
and universities, this team raised interest in the
formation of an intercollegiate men's basketball team.
The first recorded men's basketball game made from
students at Colorado Agricultural College, was played
on January 18, 1902 against the Chaffee Light Artillery.
Although not part of the official record for CSU
basketball, it shows when the interest in the game
began the demand for a college team.
One year later, the first intercollegiate men's basketball
team was formed and on February 3, 1903 they played
the school now known as the University of Northern
Colorado (Then the Greeley Normal School) in the first
exhibition game of basketball. Although not an official
team, the Aggies did begin to play other colleges such
as the Cheyenne Business College and another Greeley
game without being associated as the "Junior
The official formation of a college team coincided with
the completion of the first gymnasium on the CSU
campus. Located in the second addition (or also known
as third wing) of Old Main, the small gym was located
in the basement of the new addition completed in 1903.
As fall classes formed, the men's basketball team
moved into the Old Main gym and on February 19,
1904, what is believed to be the first official
intercollegiate game in school history was played
against the University of Denver. As a special "double
header", the DU women and CAC women played one
another just before the men's game. It is the only game
played in 1904.
The 1906 Colorado Aggies basketball team, coached by John McIntosh
(not in picture) played the second full season in school history.
Basketball was given its life thanks in part to the construction of a
gymnasium in the second addition of Old Main. Opened in the fall of 1903,
the Old Main Gym served as the home court of the Aggies basketball team
from 1903 to 1926.
Mac, Rothy and Cassidy
Prior to 1904, all men's basketball teams did not have an official coach to guide them.
Although football coach Clarence Griffith played on the 1902-1903 team, he is not listed in
the school newspaper as a coach. Matt Rothwell had taken on the coaching duties of
football in the fall of 1903, coaching the team from Denver on game days only. By the
spring of 1904, Griffith is listed as the person that represented the school at conference
meetings, but there was nobody to guide all of the athletics for the Colorado Aggies.
In the fall of 1904, John H. McIntosh was hired as the "Director of Athletics" to coach
football, baseball, track and basketball. This made him the first official coach of men's
basketball in school history. (He later decided to hire Mal Ramey as the baseball coach in
1905; the Aggies baseball team won the 1905 conference championship)
McIntosh transformed the athletics at Colorado Agricultural College and rebuilt the student
athletic association from the ground up. Although his ability as a basketball coach was
nothing to write in the history books, it was his ability to organize athletics into something
more than a roughshod group of college boys that played sports. Mac, as he was known
in the Collegian pages, only lasted two years and in the fall of 1906 he was replaced by
Claude Rothgeb from Illinois. Rothy, as the students called him was a former pro baseball
player and more inclined to care about football than basketball. In 1909, the faculty did not
allow students the ability to practice due to long class hours, so the 1909 basketball season
was cancelled due to a lack of practice time.
Rothgeb's replacement, George Cassidy, did not help the program along much after only
serving the 1910-1911 school year and basketball more than the other three sports took
the furthest backseat to any sport in the school.
John H. McIntosh became the first official
basketball coach in school history during the
1904-1905 school year.
"We Want a New Gym!"
In the fall of 1911, Harry Hughes arrived on the CAC campus and the
rest is history for football. However, like McIntosh, Rothgeb and
Cassidy, Hughes was hired as the Director of Athletics and had
control over all athletics. His historical success in football is well
documented and he also is known to have been a great track coach,
but his coaching of basketball was without question a weakness. In a
school with so few students, Hughes decided to continue to coach
basketball; he hired a baseball coach because it was a more popular
sport than basketball.
Harry Hughes was not known as a basketball player at the University
of Oklahoma as a student, but he was trained in physical education.
Hughes had the skills to teach all sports and since Colorado was a
football state, he only made his basketball teams a part of athletics
and not an emphasis. During Hughes' coaching days, it was not
uncommon to see many of his football and track athletes play
Another reason basketball did not have much focus was the horrible
conditions in the tiny Old Main Gym. The 1922-1923 season only
saw one game because the conditions in the gym became so bad that
students did not wish to play in a cramped and somewhat dangerous
gym. It was common to see students with paper signs (see photo at
right) tied to their clothing that stated "We Want a New Gym" as
early as 1920.
With a small gym and great success in other sports, something had to
be done or CAC was ready to drop basketball if the facilities were not
updated. In January of 1925, the Colorado State Board of Agriculture
approved a $220,000 gymnasium, field house and swimming pool to
begin construction later that year. Harry Hughes gave up his position
as head basketball coach and turned it over to Rudy Lavik in the fall
of 1925. Lavik had been at Colorado College and was working with
Hughes as an assistant football coach as well, which made the timing
of the new gym with an experienced coach perfect.
New Gym, Same Results
On January 28, 1927, the Colorado Aggies tipped off against the
University of Colorado for the first game in the new "Men's Gym".
The Aggies beat their in-state rivals 32-31 in a thrilling victory with
Rudy Lavik as their head coach. The new gym did not produce the
result of better basketball as the Aggies only had three winning
seasons over the next 17 years in the new building. (two seasons
ended with a .500 record)
Just as it had been prior to the opening of the new gym, men from
the football team and other sports filled the basketball team to "stay in
shape for other sports." The Aggie coaches were similar to the
players as they were assistant football coaches that filled in as
basketball coaches. From 1926 to 1942, the Aggies had five different
men as their head coach of basketball. Lavik only lasted three seasons
when Joe Ryan came in as the backfield coach for football, head
coach of baseball and the head coach of basketball from 1929 to
After Ryan left, Leonard "Saaly" Saalwaechter came in for the
1934-1935 season with little results. The first Aggie alumnus to
coach basketball came in for two seasons from 1935 to 1937. Sam
Campbell, an outstanding Aggie football and basketball player
coached the basketball team to a 7-6 record in 1936-37, but left after
a short period at his alma mater. That is when John "Sap" Davis
came in as the fifth coach in 13 seasons. Davis endured through the
war years and only posted a .344 winning percentage as basketball
remained the only major sport at Colorado State without a conference
Harry Hughes' 1924-1925 basketball team, the last basketball
team Hughes coached. In 14 seasons Hughes had a record of
The Men's Gym opened in the fall of 1926
The 1942 Colorado State College Aggies, John Davis coach.
basketball: Coming Soon