Football

  • 30 Iowa Conference titles
  • 20 NCAA Div. III playoff berths
  • No losing seasons since 1960
  • Third-winningest NCAA football team since 1975 (.805)

Coach Ron Schipper

Architecht of the Central football tradition.

'The horse is in the barn'--the magic of Ron Schipper

Ron Schipper (1928-2006)
Head football coach, Central College, 1961-96
287-67-3 career college record; 45-year combined college/high school record 320-78-5

Coach Ron Schipper Hall of Famer Ron Schipper (SKIP-per) is among winningest coaches in college football history.

In 36 years at Central College, Schipper's 287 career victories rank him second among NCAA Div. III coaches, trailing only John Gagliardi of St. John's (Minn.).

With a career record of 287-67-3, Schipper ranked fourth in Division III in career winning percentage at the time of his retirement with a lofty .808 mark. Schipper also coached high school football in Michigan for nine years at Northville and Jackson. Schipper's combined 45-year record was 320-78-5.

In 2000, the National Football Foundation inducted Schipper into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. He followed a former Central player, former NFL star defensive end Vern Den Herder, who was inducted in 1996. Schipper was inducted as a charter member of the Central College Athletic Hall of Honor in 2002.

Schipper was president of the 8,000-member American Football Coaches Association in 1994, served on the group's board of trustees from 1985-94 and was a member of the AFCA's College Football USA Blue Ribbon Task Force. He was named one of the five most influential people in the NCAA Division III in 1994 by College Sports Magazine. Schipper later served on the board of directors of Football Foundation USA and was the USA team player coordinator at the time of his death in 2006. From 2000-03 Schipper served on Central College’s board of trustees.

Following his retirement, Schipper received the inaugural Butterfield Award for outstanding performance as an NCAA Div. III coach at the USA III All-Star Game in 1997. He was also given a Citation of Honor award from the Football Writers Assocation of America for his service to college athletics and contributions to football. In 1998, Schipper was presented the Johnny Vaught Lifetime Achievement Award from the All-American Football Foundation.

An award given annually to a Central College senior, the Ron Schipper Leadership Award, was created in 1997 by the college's student government. In 1999, Central dedicated its newest athletic facility, the Ron Schipper Fitness Center. Schipper was appointed to the Central board of trustees in 2000.

Schipper piloted the Dutch to an NCAA record 36 consecutive winning seasons. His Central teams won a record 18 Iowa Conference championships, including the 1995 title, and claimed 10 crowns in his final 13 years. Central was selected for the NCAA Div. III playoffs 12 times since 1974, including 10 appearances from 1984-96. The Dutch won the NCAA Div. III national title in 1974 and advanced to the national finals three times, placing second in 1984 and 1988. Central won the West Region championship in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990.

For six years Schipper was a member of the NCAA Div. III Football Committee, including a year as chair, and later was a member of the West Region Advisory Committee. He also served six years on the NCAA Football Television Committee, the NCAA Football Rules Commitee, and as chair of the AFCA's College Division All-America Selection Committee.

Schipper had extensive international experience. He took teams to conduct clinics and play exhibitions in Italy, England and Scotland in 1985 and 1989, in Australia in 1994, and in Switzerland, Austria and France in 1998. He also conducted clinics in the Yucatan in Mexico and spent three months coaching a professional squad in England in 1988. From 2000-05, he has served as the head coach of a team of AFCA Div. III all-stars competing at the Aztec Bowl in Mexico against a team of Mexican collegiate all-stars.

From 1965-93, Schipper was Central's athletic director, helping build one of the finest all-around athletic programs in the Midwest. Central's program brought seven NCAA Div. III national team championships to the college during Schipper's tenure. In his final 16 years as athletic director, Central won 18 men's and women's Iowa Conference all-sports titles, more than twice as many as any other college. During that time, more than 90 Central athletes earned all-American honors, 28 received GTE academic all-America recognition and nine were named NCAA post-graduate scholarship winners.

A native of Zeeland, Mich., Schipper was a graduate of Hope College. He was named a distinguished alumnus there in 1994 and received a distinguished achievement award from Hope in 1997. He lettered in football, baseball, and tennis at Hope. He earned a master's degree from the University of Michigan. In 1994 Schipper was inducted as a charter member in the Pella Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame for significant contriubtions to the community. He and his wife, Joyce, had three children, Tim, Sara, and Tom, who are all Central graduates. The Schippers had five grandchildren.

Following Schipper’s death in 2006, the newly renovated Central football stadium was renamed Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium. Joyce now lives in Holland, Mich.

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