News and Events
60th Anniversary Celebration of Pepperdine's Championship Football Team
It was 60 years ago that an upstart group of football players at a small Los Angeles-based school, known then as George Pepperdine College (GPC), finished its first season of play with an 8-1 record. The Waves went on to play in the First Annual Will Rogers Bowl Classic on Jan. 1, 1947 in Oklahoma City, defeating Nebraska-Wesleyan of Lincoln, Neb. by a score of 38-13.
Pepperdine paid tribute to the 1946 Waves football team during halftime of the UCSB vs. Pepperdine men's basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse.
9 former Pepperdine football players attended the men’s basketball home season opener including quarterback Harry Nelson who graduated from GPC and went onto a career in financial and insurance planning; running back Darwin Horn who went on to work in the Secret Service protecting U.S. Presidents from the 1960s (President Eisenhower) to the 1990s (President G.H.W. Bush); and full back Gene Harding, a current Malibu resident and marshal at Malibu Country Club.
The players and their families attended a private dinner on campus prior to the game; joined by Pepperdine Athletics Director, John Watson, assistant vice chancellor, Sam Lagana, and assistant dean for GPC Alumni Relations, Chris Sangster.
A number of former Pepperdine football players are part of the University's "Athletics Hall of Fame." For the last eight years, a Football Players Endowed Scholarship has been awarded to a fifth-year student-athlete who has completed his or her eligibility but needs to take additional classes in order to graduate.
Harry Nelson, a member of the Pepperdine football program from 1946-49, has helped spearhead the effort by the former players since the early 1990s. "Football is an important part of the history and legacy of Pepperdine athletics," said Nelson. "The scholarship program is one small way that we collectively as a group can give something back to Pepperdine."