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Oliphant, Elmer Q. (Elmer Quillen), 1892-1975



  • Existence: July 9, 1892 - July 7, 1975

Biographical Information

Elmer Quillen Oliphant was born July 9, 1892, in Bloomfield, Indiana, to Marion Elsworth Oliphant and Alice Quillen Oliphant. He graduated from Linton High School in 1910 and graduated from Purdue University in 1914 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

Oliphant played football for four years in college, as an end as a freshman and a starting halfback for his final three seasons, excelling as a runner and kicker. He was the first Purdue athlete to letter in four sports: football, basketball, baseball, and track. He was also Purdue’s first All-American, twice in basketball, twice in football, and as part of Knute Rockne’s All-Time All-American Team.

After Purdue, Oliphant earned a place at West Point, where he again excelled in athletics and lettered in four sports. He graduated in 1918 and served in the United States Cavalry at Fort Sill during World War I. After the war, he returned to West Point as a track instructor, appointed by Douglas MacArthur, and developed an intramural sports system that developed into modern college intramurals.

Oliphant played professional football for the Rochester Jeffersons and the Buffalo All-Americans in 1920 and 1921, the inaugural seasons of the football league that became the NFL. In 1921, he retired from play and began coaching in the Amateur Athletic Union. He trained American athletes who competed in the 1924 Paris Olympics. In 1925, he left athletics for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, where he eventually became a senior executive in the New York region. He retired in 1957.

Oliphant was one of the first sixteen people inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame, the Indiana Football Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame, Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame, Kappa Sigma Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame and the National Football Hall of Fame.


Elmer Quillen Oliphant, Sports Legend, written and compiled by Miss Dale Leslie French.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Otis E. Griner papers

 Collection — Box: Box 1
Identifier: MSA 129
Scope and Contents The papers of Otis Edward Griner (1911-1916) include one photograph album and two folders. The majority of the album is composed of black and white photographs, a few cyanotypes, and a few newspaper clippings documenting Otis Griner's time as a student at Purdue University, 1911-1914.  Included in the collection are a Purdue tank scrap marshal ribbon (1913), and photographs of a variety of local and Purdue events, such as automobile races, the mechanics burning tradition, the Purdue Circus, May...
Dates: 1911 - 1916