Gene Ellenson Memorial Endowment
Former defensive coach Gene Ellenson was a well respected and cherished figure throughout his 35-year association with UF.
A native of Miami, Fla., Ellenson graduated from the University of Georgia in 1943 with a degree in journalism. As an undergraduate, he was a three-year defensive lineman for the Georgia Bulldogs, and played in the 1942 Orange Bowl and the 1943 Rose Bowl. He began his coaching career at Miami High School. Hired as an assistant coach at the University of Miami in 1950, Ellenson helped his defensive units rank among the nation’s top 10 from 1952-58.
Ellenson came to UF in 1960, and served as Ray Graves’ assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for nine years. Optimistic and determined, Ellenson had a gift for motivating and vitalizing his players. He was credited as a prime factor in many UF victories, including big wins over Florida Sate and Alabama. As a substitute for UF golf coach Buster Bishop who was ill, Ellenson took the golf team to New Mexico in 1968 for the NCAA Tournament. With a pep talk using a positive molecules metaphor, Ellenson primed the team to win the tournament and the national championship.
After retiring as a coach, Ellenson was an active member in Gator Boosters Inc. and served as the executive secretary from 1974-87. He continued to offer guidance to the booster organization as an advisor until his death.
Ellenson passed away in 1995 at the age of 74. Heisman winner and UF coach Steve Spurrier said, He was extremely influential in my coaching career. His message was one I’ve tried to repeat many times through my coaching He certainly has a prominent place in the University of Florida football history.
Ellenson was also a World War II veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star and Purple Heart for his bravery while fighting in Europe.
Alfred McKethan, a 1931 graduate of UF and longtime friend of the university, sponsored the endowment in recognition of Ellenso