University’s are always bragging about their shiny new, state-of-the-art facilities—and rightly so. When RMU built Joe Walton Stadium in 2005, for example, it was yet another example of how the university was growing and continuing to enhance the overall experience of its students.
But as we celebrate the new, it’s also important to revere the old.
As you walk into John Jay Center, the first door on your left leads into the Gus Krop Gym. This is a special place. Wooden rafters support the large domed ceiling – a feature not seen in many modern gyms – and old-fashioned bleachers sit on just one side of the court, recalling the days when the university was much smaller. It a warm, cozy place that reminds me of the small-town gymnasiums in “Hoosiers,” the 1986 basketball classic staring Gene Hackman.
Gus Krop (1917-2005) is known as the founder of RMU basketball. From 1963 to 1976, he led the Colonials to an impressive record of 287-58. Krop coached nine All-Americans at then Robert Morris College, and, in 1969, he took the Colonials to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) title game. It was the success of Krop’s teams in the mid to late 1960s that really helped market Robert Morris and put it on the map, so to speak.
After retiring from coaching in 1976, Krop became the university’s director of security until he retired altogether in 1997.
Today, the men’s and women’s basketball teams play over in Sewell Center Arena, and the Gus Krop Gym is mainly used for RMU’s indoor intramural activities. But hopefully this little gym that holds the ghosts of teams past will always serve as a tribute to one of RMU’s greatest coaches.
— Valentine J. Brkich