Dr. Edward S. Steitz, widely recognized as the creator of the three-point shot in College Basketball, was very influential in the world of basketball during his career. He had many roles in basketball, beginning as the head basketball coach at Springfield College to being named to the Executive Board of the U.S Olympic Committee. In these roles, he left a legacy that can still be seen in the game of basketball today. Steitz was born on November 7th, 1920 in Beacon, New York. After graduating from Beacon High School, Steitz served as a member of the United States Army from 1942 to 1946. Steitz went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell which he followed with a Master of Education (1948) and a Doctor of Physical Education (1963) from Springfield College.
In 1948, Steitz began his professional career at Springfield College as a faculty member. He was appointed as the head varsity basketball Coach in 1956. In the ten years that he coached, his teams never had a losing season, and he ended with a 185-86 record. In 1965, he took the Springfield College basketball team in an around-the-world tour for the United States State Department, posting a 25-0 won-lost record. As well as being the coach of Springfield College, Steitz served and the Director of Athletics at Springfield for 33 years before retiring in 1989.
Steitz had a strong impact on the rules of the game. He served as the national secretary and editor of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee from 1967 through his death in 1990. He is perhaps best known as creating the three-point shot for collegiate basketball in 1986. He decided that, for the rule to work, that the shooter would need to be 19 feet 9 inches from the basket. He compiled statistics from 1980 onwards to support this rule change, claiming that 38% of the shots taken from the three-point distance would be hit. He was spot on when teams hit 38% of the three point shots attempted in the rule’s first year. Some of the other famous rules he helped enact were the reinstatement of the dunk shot in 1976, the elimination of the jump ball except at the start of the game in 1981, and the 45-second shot clock in 1985. For this work and his passion for game, Steitz was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.
Steitz continued his work in basketball, still serving as the national secretary and editor of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee, until he unexpectedly died on May 21, 1990 at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA. He was only 69, but had over 40 years of contributions to Springfield College and the game of basketball. Dick Vitale, one of the severest critics of the three-point shot as well as one of Steitz’s colleagues, remembers Steitz as a man who was “honest, had unquestionable integrity and a great love of the game of basketball.”
Materials in the Springfield College Edward S. Steitz Records consist of newspaper articles, magazine articles, news releases, speeches, manuscripts, correspondence, lists, notes, video recordings, and photographs on or about the life and work of Edward S. Steitz. The materials were gathered and collected by Springfield College employees, mostly in the Marketing and Communications department. The bulk of the materials were created between 1970 through 1990. There is copious biographical information collected and written by Springfield College, both in the form of media releases and internal documents. These documents list his accomplishments with basketball rules, travel to other countries, and connections with important sport organizations. There are many materials on his nomination and induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984, including original nomination forms and speeches given at the induction ceremony. The majority of materials within the collection are newspaper articles and magazine articles. This includes many articles written on his death and articles on his basketball rules work, including his three-point rules changes in 1986. There are two VHS video tapes within the collection, including the tape of his memorial service and a 1988 taping of an appearance on “38 on Sports” on WSBK-TV 38 by producer Cliff Allen. There are also many photographs of Steitz throughout his career, including images from the 1965 Springfield College basketball team World Tour.