W. A. Lambeth
Biographical details
Born(1867-10-27)October 27, 1867
Thomasville, North Carolina
DiedJune 24, 1944(1944-06-24) (aged 76)
Charlottesville, Virginia
Alma materUniversity of Virginia

William Alexander Lambeth (October 27, 1867 – June 24, 1944)[1][2] was a medical professor who was the first athletic director at the University of Virginia. He is often called "the father of intercollegiate athletics" at the university.[3][4]

Lambeth was integral in the foundation of the Southern Conference[5] and once a member of the Football Rules Committee. He was the namesake of Lambeth Field; the "Colonnades" where the university used to play football before the building of Scott Stadium. He was also a student of architecture. The Lambeth House, currently used by the Curry School of Education, used to be his residence.[6]

Early yearsEdit

Lambeth was born October 27, 1867 in Thomasville, North Carolina, the son of a major in the Confederate Army.[2][7][8] He was of English ancestry, with forebears from the part of London known as Lambeth.[7]

University of VirginiaEdit

After graduating from local Thomasville High School, he attended the University of Virginia and received his M. D. in 1892. He had also studied German, physics, chemistry, geology, and biology.[7] He then ran the school's gymnasium while seeking his Ph.D.[8] He received the Ph.D in June 1898.[7]


In between, he studied at the Harvard School of Physical Training–from which he took a degree in 1895.[9]

University of Virginia facultyEdit

Lambeth was a professor of Materia Medica and Hygiene, Head of the Department of Physical Education, and Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds at his alma mater.[6][10] He worked on the faculty in one capacity or another for 40 years.[1]


He worked as athletic director as early as 1892 and was a medical adviser on the Virginia Cavaliers football team. He led reforms as part of the Football Rules Committee from 1910 to 1921.[11] He and John Heisman were two who pushed for four quarters rather than two halves to avoid injuries.[12]

In 1888, Lambeth was president of the American Athletic association, and in 1893 he was vice president of the department of physical education at the World's Fair.[7]


Lambeth was also a student of architecture with interest in the style of Thomas Jefferson,[4] writing a study of the subject, and of various Italians. "He was interested in all things Italian."[9]

See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 "Lambeth Memorial Plaque".
  2. 2.0 2.1 Annual Report - Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Volumes 39-40
  3. Dan Heuchert (June 6, 2013). "Plaque to Honor Lambeth's Pivotal Role in U.Va. Athletics, Football's Development". Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "William Alexander Lambeth". College Topics. July 8, 1944.,4092794&hl=en.
  5. "Virginia Sportswriters Name 16 Athletes To Hall of Fame". The Bee: p. 22. February 9, 1956. Retrieved April 9, 2015. open access
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Lambeth House".
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "William Alexander Lambeth". Men of Mark in Virginia 5: 249. open access
  8. 8.0 8.1 Kevin Edds (June 7, 2013). "Lambeth: Virginia's Father of Athletic". Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "University of Virginia Board of Visitors Meeting of the Buildings and Grounds Committee". May 22, 2012. p. 8.
  10. Corks and Curls. 15. p. 110.
  11. "Dr. Lambeth Added Much To Intercollegiate Football Rules". College Topics: p. 5. July 8, 1944.,4107401&hl=en. Retrieved April 10, 2015. open access
  12. Kevin Edds. "Football's Founding Fathers".

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