Sports Hall of Fame

Alumni like Warren make a school thrive

John Warren left a significant mark on the state's sports landscape
By Cliff Pfenning,

John Warren built the Astoria High basketball program into a state power, helped coach the University of Oregon to the 1939 NCAA title and earned the nickname “Honest  John” during a three-decade coaching career at the school.

Born in LaGrande in 1904, Warren excelled as an athlete in football, eventually earning a spot on the University of Oregon roster in 1926 and ’27, each of which went 2-4-1.

After graduating with a business degree, Warren moved to Astoria, became basketball coach and led the Fishermen to a second-place finish at the state tournament in 1929. Astoria then won state titles in 1930, ’32, ’34 and ’35, using Warren’s up-tempo style, which contradicted the established style of play during the era of the center jump following every basket.

After the ’35 title, new Oregon coach Howard Hobson recruited him to Eugene and Astoria standouts Bobby Anet, Wally Johansen and Ted Sarpola followed. Anet and Johansen were two of the starters on the 1939 NCAA Tournament championship team.

During World War II, Warren coached the Oregon football team to a 2-6 record in 1942 and the basketball team to a 30-15 record and third-place finish in the NCAA Tournament West Regional in 1944-45.

Warren officially took over for Hobson in 1947 and guided the Ducks for four seasons, serving as an assistant on the football team for two of those seasons.

Warren coached track and field as an assistant at Oregon into the 1950s, when he became a business owner in Eugene. He helped raise funds for the school to build Autzen Stadium and later helped create a Hall of Fame for the UO athletic department, contributing numerous historic photos to the school library.

Warren fathered Charlie Warren, who became an athletic standout in Eugene and the University of Oregon as a basketball player.

John and Charlie Warren were inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1981.

John Warren was inducted to the University of Oregon Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.

He died in 1981 at age 76.

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