Nick Pappas, regarded as “Mr. Trojan” because of his 59 years of service at USC as a player, coach and athletic department administrator and for creating the Trojan Club athletic support group, died Oct. 23 in Pasadena. He was 99.
Perhaps nobody has had a longer or more valued association with USC athletics than Pappas.
A three-year tailback for Coach Howard Jones’ Trojans in 1935-37, Pappas played professionally with the Hollywood Bears in 1938 and 1939.
He returned to Troy to coach the freshman football teams in 1939 and 1940. He scouted for pro teams for six seasons and for USC for two years, then was a Trojan assistant varsity football coach from 1953 to 1956.
Pappas built USC’s Trojan Club donor group into the most successful organization of its type in the nation. He rose to the position of associate athletic director in charge of athletic development. Although he retired from his full-time position in 1981, he remained active in the department until 2004, working on the endowment fund through wills and estates.
He earned a Purple Heart and Silver Star during his service with the Navy in World War II. He doubled for actor Pat O’Brien as Knute Rockne in the football scenes of the 1940 movie Knute Rockne, All-American.
For more on Pappas, visit the USC Athletics website, USCTrojans.com.