April 24, 2012
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss Athletics would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family of Roland Dale and the Southern Miss community on the passing of his death. The former Southern Miss Golden Eagle athletics director and coach, Roland Dale passed away Sunday night in Jackson, MS. He was 84 years old.
"Southern Miss has lost a legend as Roland Dale was an exceptional man, coach, and athletic director," said Southern Miss Interim Athletics Director Jeff Hammond. "This is an especially sad day for me as I knew Coach Dale personally as he was my athletic director during my football playing years at Southern Miss. I recently had the fortunate opportunity to visit and speak with him and his son. Roland Dale was a true visionary and will be missed by the entire Southern Miss family."
Dale, who was inducted into the Southern Miss M-Club Hall of Fame on April 12, 1996, was one of the architects of the Southern Miss athletic program as both an assistant coach and as athletic director. His accomplishments and achievements are responsible for the success of the school's athletic program today.
In 1955, Southern Miss' Pie Vann recognized Dale's coaching abilities and hired him to be the school's line coach. Dale served in this position for two seasons and the school posted a record of 16-3-1 while earning an invitation to the Tangerine Bowl.
After a couple of years in private business, he returned to coaching at Tulane. He then went to Ole Miss in 1960 as an assistant under the legendary Coach John Vaught, where he remained for 12 seasons, leaving to be head football coach at Southeastern Louisiana in 1972. It was from there he returned to Southern Miss in 1974 to become athletic director.
His arrival as athletic director at Southern Miss began when he was introduced at a press conference on January 29, 1974. A few days later he began his duties.
One of his accomplishments was the renovation to Roberts Stadium. It was underway when Dale first arrived, but under-funded. He helped oversee the project and was instrumental in securing the additional funds needed from the legislature that helped see the project through to completion. The larger facility was a key factor in helping to upgrade the schedule by getting more formidable opponents to come to Hattiesburg.
During his tenure as athletics director, Dale engineered the school's membership in the Metro Conference. The success enjoyed during those Metro Conference days was one of the key factors in Southern Miss' membership today in Conference USA.
Dale began his football career as a player at Ole Miss, where he played tackle from 1947-49. The 1947 and 1948 squads posted a 17-3 record and the 1947 team captured the Southeastern Conference Championship. Dale was named captain of the 1949 Ole Miss squad.
Following his Ole Miss career, Dale played in the Blue-Gray All-Star Game before playing defensive end during the 1950 season with the Washington Redskins. A shoulder injury cut short his professional career.
Dale began his coaching career with stops at Jones Junior College and Greenwood High School. In 1953, he became the head football coach and athletic director at Gulfport High School. That year, GHS posted an 8-3 record and Dale was voted the Big Eight Coach of the Year.
Along with the M-Club Hall of Fame, Dale was inducted into the Ole Miss Athletics Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.
Dale hired several outstanding Golden Eagle Hall of Fame coaches such as Bobby Collins in football, M.K. Turk in men's basketball, Kay James in women's basketball, Hill Denson in baseball and Marshall Bell in track and field.
Arrangements are still being made. In lieu of flowers, the Dale family asks that a donation be made to the Roland and Teenie Dale Endowment. Checks should be made to the Southern Miss Athletic Foundation; Box 15458; Hattiesburg, MS 39494