Bob McNamara was an integral part of Golden Gopher Tennis history. Bob was one of the charter members of the Baseline Club, the support group started in the early 1970’s when Coach Jerry Noyce was beginning a long successful run with the Gopher men’s tennis program.
At that time, Minnesota Tennis had to drive to local tennis clubs in the absence of an indoor tennis facility on campus. Thanks to the Bob’s tireless fundraising efforts, the tennis program was able to secure enough funds to help make this Tennis Center a reality. Finally, the tennis teams would not need to worry about bad weather when it came to practice and competition. But Bob wasn’t done. In order to secure the future of Gopher Tennis, the Baseline Club set out to endow the scholarships for Men’s Tennis. Today there is more than $1 million in endowed scholarship funds for men’s tennis.
McNamara’s contributions to the University started long before his involvement with the tennis programs. Bob was an All-American and All-Big Ten halfback on the Gopher football team in 1954 and also lettered in basketball before going onto a professional football career in the AFL and CFL. He was inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame in 1993.
McNamara and his brother, Pinky, who played with Bob at Minnesota on the football field, were instrumental in the building of TCF Bank Stadium, Siebert Field and other facilities on campus. The brothers were also prominent voices in the 2001 Save Gopher Sports Campaign, which helped keep men’s gymnastics, men’s golf and women’s golf varsity sports at Minnesota. The McNamara Academic Center, located in the Bierman Field Athletic Building and is used daily by Minnesota’s more-than 750 student-athletes, is named after both Bob and Pinky.
Minnesota Tennis owes a debt of gratitude to Bob McNamara and all of his friends who generously donated to this rich and storied program.