Hugh S. Greer Field House

The Hugh S. Greer Field House was built in 1954. It originally served as the University of Connecticut’s basketball stadium, replacing the “Cage,” a temporary structure composed of two airplane hangars. In 1990, it became part of the student recreational facilities after the basketball teams left for the new Gampel Pavilion. A year later, the University Board of Trustees voted to rename the building after former UConn basketball coach Hugh S. Greer.

Hugh Scott Greer was born in Suffield, Connecticut, on August 5, 1904. He attended the Connecticut Agricultural College, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in 1926, and later received a Masters of Education from Springfield College. After a successful career as a high school coach, Greer came back to the University of Connecticut in 1946. He was hired as an Assistant Professor of Physical Education and coached the Men’s Basketball team. According to one report, Greer “never lost his composure on or off the court,” and he was awarded the Gold Key from the Connecticut Sports Writer’s Alliance in 1957 for outstanding contributions to sports in his home state.

At the time of his death in 1963, Greer held the record for most wins as UConn basketball coach. After he unexpectedly died from a heart attack, a plaque was installed in the Field House to commemorate his celebrated service at the University of Connecticut.

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 

Harrison Fitch, the first African-American basketball player at Connecticut State College

Harrison "Honey" Fitch, the first African-American basketball player at the Connecticut State College, 1934

Harrison B. “Honey” Fitch was a basketball standout at his high school in New Haven, and in 1932 enrolled as a freshman at the Connecticut State College (the name changed later to the University of Connecticut).  He was a strong member of the CSC basketball team yet endured racism and harassment at times from the players of opposing teams, most notably in a game, on January 28, 1934, against the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London.  The Academy refused to play the game if Fitch was on the court, arguing, as Mark Roy wrote in the February 2, 2004, UConn Advance, that “because half of the Academy’s student body was from the southern states, they had a tradition ‘that no negro players be permitted to engage in contests at the Academy.'”

Fitch’s teammates threatened to leave the basketball court if he was not allowed to play, and Fitch joined them in warming up for the game, while the officials argued and delayed the start of the game for several hours.  Although the Coast Guard relented, and CSC won the game 31 to 29, the team’s coach, John Heldman, inexplicably kept Fitch on the bench the entire game.

Fitch left CSC at the end of the 1934 academic year and transferred to American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He then worked in research for the Monsanto Corporation, married in 1939 and had two sons, and died in the early 1990s.  His son, Brooks Fitch, told Mark Roy that his father told him he had a good experience as a student at the CSC and was always a fan of UConn basketball.