Keeping it in the Baylor family

Walter Abercrombie returns to his roots after playing for NFL

By Kendall Baer | Lariat Assistant Web Editor

Football has been a major part of Baylor University’s history since 1898. Many players have passed through the team, leaving their marks. One particular player, Walter Abercrombie, a standout running back for Baylor from 1978-1981, continues to impact Baylor campus after his collegiate and professional football days by serving as executive director of the Baylor ‘B’ Association.

Abercrombie, a Waco native and the son of a Baptist preacher, said Baylor was always a natural connection for him.

“I had one of the greatest collegiate football experiences a player could ever have right here at Baylor,” Abercrombie said. “Aside from the individual honors I earned as a player, I had outstanding coaches and dedicated teammates. Also, we won a conference championship and went to two bowl games.”

Abercrombie said while he loved his time as a Baylor football player, he learned the most from attending Baylor as a student.

“I made lifelong friends, received a first-class education, and never felt ashamed to exercise my faith,” said Abercrombie.

Abercrombie said his mother was the biggest influence his decision to play football.

“She was a huge football fan and her favorite team was the Dallas Cowboys,” Abercrombie said. “Every Sunday, she and I rushed home after church to watch the Cowboys play.”

Though his mother had a large influence on his decision to play football, Abercrombie said he had another influence that affected the way he played football.

“Besides my mother’s influence, my second biggest influence was the great running back from USC Orenthal James Simpson,” Abercrombie said. “In fact, I patterned my running style after him.”

Abercrombie went on to be a first-round draft pick and the 12th pick overall for the Pittsburgh Steelers after his collegiate football career. He played for the Steelers from 1982-1987 before playing his last two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1988-1989.

The Baylor ‘B’ Association is the university’s official letter-winners organization composed of nearly 5,000 athletic alumni and is a way for Abercrombie to give back to Baylor. It includes former student athletes, student managers, student athletic trainers and student video coordinators.

“I had a strong desire to give back to the place that gave so much to me as a young man,” said Abercrombie. “Every day I pour my heart and soul into my work at the ‘B’ Association in hopes of making Baylor a stronger institution through the continued involvement and contributions of our athletic alumni.”

Tammy Hardin, assistant director of operations for the Baylor “B” Association, said Abercrombie has had a great effect on the association since she started working with him and the association 10 years ago.

“I feel Walter’s biggest contribution as the executive director of the “B” Association has been his success in growing the membership base,” Hardin said. “Coming into this job, it was very important to him to be inclusive and he accomplished this by reaching out to all former athletes, especially women and minorities.”

Hardin also said  Abercrombie’s main goal is still to make certain everyone understands that this is an organization of former athletes from all sports and to encourage each one to come and be a part of their letter-winner family.

“Walter is a relationship guy. Everyone knows him and most everyone loves him, so people really want to buy into what he is selling,” Hardin said.

Abercrombie strives to keep alumni athletes connected.

“My job simply is to serve them and create events and programs aimed at keeping them engaged with Baylor athletics and the university,” Abercrombie said.

Hardin said she hopes that the ‘B’ Association will continue to grow in membership, and in doing so, will be able to provide even more benefits to their members and add new and exciting events to their calendar.

“It is my sincere hope that all former athletes consider becoming involved with the organization,” Hardin said. “The membership cost is minimal to the benefits they receive by being a member. Just in knowing that you have a place to come back to after you graduate, to fellowship with old teammates and friends, is invaluable in itself.”

When asked what advice Abercrombie had to athletes today, Abercrombie said, “My advice is for them strive to be champions on and off the field, court and track. Each day, work hard to become a better athlete and person today than you were yesterday. Finally, spend more time building bridges and waste no time burning them. Sic’em Bears.”