East Tennessee State University

Retirees Association (ETSURA)

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Besides his innumerable contributions to the success of ETSU, the late President Emeritus D.P. Culp is remembered fondly for his enthusiastic support of its athletic teams.  The following memories were shared recently by his widow, Martha Street Culp.

The Bucs sack quarterback Terry Bradshaw during the 1969 Grantland Rice Bowl.

Dr. Culp was an educational adviser to the Alabama Legislature for many years, and he thought that the duty had ended when we moved to Tennessee (in 1969). Not so.  A very important educational matter arose in Alabama, and he was urgently requested to go to Montgomery to offer advice. 

The trip created a big problem, however, as it coincided with an appearance by ETSU’s basketball team in the NCAA tournament, and he intended to see the Bucs play.  Dr. Culp worked all day in his office, closed it at 5, had his car serviced, ate dinner, and made the 10-hour drive to Montgomery through the night. He then met with old friends on the Legislative Education Committee for an hour or two before driving north to Clanton. After eating lunch and catching two hours of sleep at his sister’s home, he drove directly to Kent State University in northern Ohio, arriving just in time to see his team lose by a whisker. After the game, he drove home alone – a journey of about 500 miles – and slept for about 20 hours.

On another occasion, Dr. Culp accompanied the ETSU football team to a game against an opponent in Kentucky. The game was played in a downpour. Dr. Culp, dressed in a blue suit, sat on the bench with the team, soaking wet. Meanwhile, the other school’s president was in the comfort of the press box.

The field was so muddy that identifying the players was difficult after the whistle blew. The officials and coaches practically had to count the players after every play to make sure nobody had drowned.  When the game ended, Dr. Culp drove straight home, arriving around 3 a.m. After taking a warm shower to thaw himself out, he slept for three hours and was back in the office at 8.


    That was the year our football team was chosen to play in the Grantland Rice Bowl, and some of the most prominent players were my “flower-power boys.” (Editor’s Note: See Accent January 28, 2004 - Mrs. Martha Culp's daylilies).  Everybody wanted to go to that game, in which we were facing Louisiana Tech and its highly publicized quarterback, Terry Bradshaw. Dr. Culp and I planned to leave after work and drive all night. At the last minute, several people asked to ride with Dr. Culp, so I gave up my seat.  I was brokenhearted, but I got to watch the game on television.

Dr. Culp pulled into Baton Rouge, La., at 5 a.m. He said he had never seen a city so silent. He and the others drove around looking for the stadium where the game would be played, but had no luck. Finally, they came upon a street sweeper and asked its driver for directions.  Looking down from his seat, the man said, “Mister, I can’t tell you how to get there from here, but I can lead you over there if you follow.” That solved the problem, and the group was given a personal escort to the game by a street sweeper.

The game was probably the most exciting one in any of Dr. Culp’s presidencies.  Our boys concentrated on Terry Bradshaw, who was a one-man team. Once they had him whipped, they won the game.


 "Tales of the University" is a regular column provided by the ETSU Retirees Association about the university and the people associated with it through the decades.  Faculty, staff, students and alumni are encouraged to share their memories of ETSU with the Retirees Association for consideration for future columns.  Stories, comments and suggestions may be sent to Dr. Willene Paxton, chair of the Tales of the University committee, 1203 Lester Harris Road, Johnson City, TN 37601, or willenepj@charter.net.

Mailing Address:  Office of Human Resources
ETSU Box 70564
Johnson City, TN  37614-1707
Telephone:  423-439-4457
Fax:  423-439-8354
TDD:  423-439-4710

Office Hours:  8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. E.S.T. Monday - Friday
Office Location:  Rooms 307 and 311, Dossett Hall

Updated on 09/07/10