February 27, 1967
In the spring of 1963, Gary Walters and the other students in Problems of American Democracy entered their classroom at Reading (Pa.) High one day to find the chalkboard hidden by hanging maps. "You're probably wondering whether we're having a pop quiz," said their teacher, Pete Carril. "We're not, but I have a surprise announcement." With that, Carril, who doubled as Reading's basketball coach, lifted the maps one by one to reveal words that would forever change one senior's life: GARY WALTERS HAS BEEN ACCEPTED AT PRINCETON.
Walters, a fleet point guard who averaged 8.3 points and 5.5 assists in his career with the Tigers, played for one season alongside All-America Bill Bradley on a team that reached the semifinals of the 1965 NCAA tournament. Two years later the 5'10" Walters posed for the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in a library with center Chris Thomforde, who is now an ordained Lutheran minister and president of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. (SI, Jan. 31, 2000). Recalls Walters, "Guys kidded me when they saw the cover, saying, 'Gee, Gary, that's the only time I've ever seen you in the library.' "
Three years after graduating with a degree in psychology, the 23-year-old Walters became the youngest coach in NCAA history when Middlebury (Vt.) College hired him. After one season there he took over a losing program at Union in Schenectady, N.Y., and went 53-13 in three years. In 1973 Carril, who had become Princeton's coach six seasons earlier, asked Walters to return to his alma mater as an assistant. He stayed for two years before leaving to head up the programs at Dartmouth and Providence.
Walters walked away from hoops in 1981 and into the world of financial services, becoming a partner and senior vice president at Kidder, Peabody & Co., then working at smaller firms before Princeton beckoned yet again. In '94 the school asked Walters to return as athletic director. "D�j� vu all over again," says Walters, who served as his old teacher's boss until Carril retired in '96. The opportunity was irresistible to Walters. "For those of us in education it's tantamount to a calling," says Walters, who has been married for 25 years and is the father of three. "It's a way to give back."
As athletic director, Walters has overseen construction of a 27,800-seat football stadium as well as the Tigers' 83 Ivy League tides in 30 men's and women's sports. He is most proud, however, of his faculty fellowship program, in which professors serve as informal academic advisers to student athletes. Mr. Carril's former pupil knows as well as anyone the impact a teacher can have on a student's life.