(Dec. 19, 1899-Sept. 22, 1992). Born in Logansport, Indiana, Tony Hinkle attended the University of Chicago, where he was named to the All-Western Conference (Big 10) basketball team in 1919 and 1920 and won All-America honors in the latter season. An end on the Maroon football team, he earned three letters playing for the legendary football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, “considered one of the great innovators in the development of college football.” While pitching in Chicago’s semi-pro leagues, he won a tryout offer from the New York Giants.
Hinkle joined thecoaching staff in 1921 as an assistant to Stagg disciple Harlan Page. When Page took over the Indiana University football program in 1926, Hinkle succeeded his mentor as head coach of Butler’s athletic teams. Except for a 1942-1944 stint as coach of the powerhouse Great Lakes Naval Training Station squads, Hinkle remained at Butler until his retirement in 1970.
His Bulldog football teams claimed a 171-100-12 mark and nine Indiana Collegiate Conference titles. His baseball teams finished 325-305-4 and Hinkle’s basketball charges achieved a 572-403 slate. A 1929 national college championship, National Invitational Tournament appearances in 1958 and 1959, and a 1962 NCAA berth highlighted his tenure as basketball coach.
On March 7, 1928, Hinkle and his team dedicated their new basketball arena with a 21-13 victory over Notre Dame. Butler Fieldhouse remained America’s largest gymnasium until after World War II, and Hinkle was still head basketball coach when the hall was christenedin 1965. Named Butler’s athletic director in 1932, Hinkle also ran fieldhouse concessions for a brief period. He was known to do groundskeeping on the football field and to polish the basketball floor himself.
Hinkle’s greatest impact on national athletics may have been his invention of the “Hinkle System.” A basketball strategy based on motion, passing, picks, and screens, the system was a precursor of offenses later perfected by Indiana University coach Bob Knight and others. Hinkle’s success at teaching athletics led over 200 of his lettermen to pursue coaching careers at the secondary school or collegiate levels.
Tony Hinkle served on the NCAA Basketball Rules Committee (1937-1938, 1942-1950), including a term as chairman (1948-1950), and during 1954-1955 was president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He received the 1962 National Collegiate Basketball Coaches Association Award and the 1986 NABC Golden Anniversary Award. Hinkle was a member of the Indiana and Helms Foundation football and basketball halls of fame and was inducted into the James Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1965.