Dave Nelson

Class of


A foremost authority on collegiate football rules and the father of the Wing-T offense, Dave served college football for many years. At the University of Delaware, Nelson served as Athletic
Director for 33 years (1951-1984), head football coach (1951-66), and Dean of the College of Physical Education, Athletics and Recreation (1980-89).  He was appointed the first full-time
commissioner of the Yankee Conference in 1989 , serving until his death in 1991. Nelson was a member of the NCAA Football Rules Committee for 34 years (1957-90), and was the committee’s
Secretary-Editor for 29 years. Dave’s football record was 84-42-2 (1951-65). His 1963 team was undefeated and named Small College National Champions by United Press International. He led teams to
three Middle Atlantic Conference and three Lambert Cup titles. Nelson developed Delaware into the “Little Giants of the East”. He was Hillsdale College head coach (1946-47), was Harvard backfield
coach in 1948, and the University of Maine head coach 1949-50. Dave was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987, and was a charter member of the University of Delaware Athletics Hall
of Fame in 1997, He won the National Football Foundation’s Distinguished American Award in 1984 and selected by Referee Magazine as one of the top 20 men who did the most for his sport in



Every inductee into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame since our inaugural year in 1976 is represented on our website. Honoring the athletic excellence of these men and women is an integral part of Delaware sports history.


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A visit to the museum will take you back over 100 years of sports in Delaware, from the Lenni Lenape Indians right up to today. Experience memorabilia, artifacts, and the stories of Delaware legends.


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