LANCASTER, Pa. - The Franklin & Marshall Academy held its reunion on Saturday, October 4, an event that honored Lancaster wrestling icon, Theodore Rupp.
The Rupp Cup was formally unveiled at the reunion. Franklin & Marshall College and Millersville University, both of which were coached by Rupp, will wrestle for the trophy annually. Millersville won the inaugural battle held in Rupp's name back in February. F&M head coach, Pete Schuyler and Millersville head coach, Todd Roberts, will introduce the trophy and offer remarks on Rupp's storied life.
A student at the F&M Academy, Rupp has strong ties to both institutions, as well as their respective wrestling programs. In 1948-49, Rupp coached both Millersville and F&M, finishing with a 20-2 combined record. That is believed to have been the only time in collegiate wrestling history when one man coached two colleges concurrently.
A member of outstanding F&M wrestling teams, Rupp's first coaching post was at the F&M Academy. He served as the team's mentor between 1935 and 1943, winning four National Prep School championships. From those teams came Dick DiBattista, who went on to win the NCAA championships for Penn in 1941 and 1942 under the direction of F&M alum, W. Austin Bishop '27.
In 1946, Rupp started the wrestling program at Millersville University and guided the team through 12 straight winning seasons. He wrapped up his collegiate coaching career with a 76-20-2 record.
After receiving his B.A. in history from F&M, Rupp earned an M.A. from Penn State and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He was the chairman of the department of foreign languages at Millersville for a number of years and attended the Sorbonne as a Fulbright Scholar.
Rupp became an emeritus professor of French upon his retirement in 1982. In 1984, the Lancaster Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association honored Rupp with the "George Kirchner Award" for his athletic accomplishments and achievements. Other honors include: president of the Pa. State Modern Language Association, inductee into the Pa. Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame (1975) and Educator of the Year of the PSMLA.
The Franklin & Marshall Academy was founded in 1787 as the preparatory department of the newly founded Franklin College. In 1872, the preparatory, now an Academy, became independent of the then Franklin & Marshall College, with its own name, and in 1873, its own building, later known as East Hall. The Academy flourished in the early 1900s under Edwin Hartman, and in 1907-08 he built a large, imposing "ultra-modern" building with huge white pillars in front with the help of a gift from Andrew Carnegie. From then until WWII it sent hundreds of students (including some great athletes) to Franklin & Marshall and other colleges all over the country.
WWII marked the demise of the Academy in spite of a full enrollment. With the draft in full swing, the trustees, who controlled both institutions, elected to sacrifice the Academy to save the College by agreeing to utilize both Academy buildings to house and feed military trainees in order to fulfill Washington's conditions for assigning V5 and V12 military training programs to the College. The last Academy graduation took place in 1943.