Alumni raising funds to add John Hill's name to Sayger Court

During halftime of the Heidelberg University Men's Basketball team's game against Otterbein Cardinals, the university held a ceremony to announce the plan to co-name the basketball court Sayger-Hill Court. The name honors two pillars in Heidelberg Basketball history, Herman E. Sayger '20 and John D. Hill '70.  

The hardwood inside Seiberling Gymnasium has borne the name of Sayger since the building opened in 1952. Born in Arkansas, Sayger rose to prominence as a high school football and basketball star at Culver Military Academy in Indiana. At Culver, he set a Hoosier State record with a 113-point performance. During his time at Heidelberg, he pulled off the rare feat of earning All-Ohio honors in both football and basketball.

After graduating, Sayger had a fantastical career full of many unique experiences. On the surface, his career – with stints as a coach and administrator at Heidelberg and 30 years in the field of advertising and printing – seemed ordinary. A closer inspection reveals Sayger's many claims to fame, including being an early proponent of the 3-point shot in basketball … printing some of the earliest-known college athletics pocket schedules … standardizing football referee hand signals … and a brief stint as a sideline reporter for Ohio State football.  

Sayger passed away in 1970, 15 years before his induction into the Heidelberg Athletics Hall of Fame.

Currently, former teammates and players have provided contributions of $372,600 toward the goal of $500,000 to co-name the court to honor Hill. A native of Tiffin, Hill enjoyed a storied career for the Tricolor. Finishing his career just shy of 1,000 points, he scored 582 points as a senior -- the most in program history until the advent of the 3-point line.

Hill returned to his Sweet Alma Home as head coach in 1976 and won 357 games over a 26-year span -- including 24 wins with the high-flying 1983-84 team. He guided two teams to the NCAA tournament and sits atop Heidelberg's wins list. In addition to basketball, Hill served as the head coach for golf, tennis, cross country and track at various points.  

During the 1983-84 school year, Hill took over as athletic director -- a role he held for 17 years. Included in his administrative highlights were the addition of six programs, the renovation of Seiberling Gymnasium and several outdoor facilities, and the restructuring of the athletic staff. His post-'Berg career included stints at Shenandoah University and Tiffin University in athletics and development.

Hill was inducted into the Heidelberg Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005, where he is enshrined alongside more than a dozen individuals with whom he played or coached.

If you would like to add your support to this initiative, contact Ashley Helmstetter, Associate Vice President for Advancement, Alumni, and Community Relations, at ahelmste@heidelberg.edu or 419.448.2231. You can also make a gift or pledge online by visiting alumni.heidelberg.edu/give.

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