Calhoun Folk “Cally” Gault, legendary football coach and athletic director, passed away on April 19, 2019.
Coach Gault became PC’s head football coach and athletic director in 1963. He served as head coach until 1984 and as athletic director until 1995. He was given the title of Director Emeritus of PC Athletics upon his retirement.
Coach Gault earned a reputation for high sportsmanship and the title “Dean of South Carolina Football Coaches” during his 22 years as the head coach of the Blue Hose. He served as athletic director for a total of 31 years.
“The lives touched by Coach Cally Gault are too many to count,” said PC President Bob Staton. “His influence on student-athletes, as well as others at PC, has proved to be very significant and long-lasting for many people.
“The Blue Hose family has lost someone who is near and dear to all of us, and we’ll be forever grateful for Coach Gault’s dedication to Presbyterian College.”
Coach Gault received a number of awards, honors, and other recognitions during his storied career. In 1984, then South Carolina Governor Dick Riley bestowed the Order of the Palmetto onto Gault. Considered the highest civilian honor in the state of South Carolina, the Order of the Palmetto recognizes a person’s lifetime achievements and contributions to the state.
In 2000, PC presented Gault with an honorary Doctor of Public Service for his service to the College during his illustrious career. Coach Gault received the Thomas Aurelius Stallworth ‘55 Alumni Award in 2010, and also served on the ROTC Alumni Council Executive Committee. He did more than coach and serve as an athletic director: He was also as a teacher, mentor, counselor, and friend to hundreds of young people for more than 40 years.
In 1988, Gault was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame and the Greenville High School Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame in 1989.
Gault compiled a record of 127-102-8 while head coach of the Blue Hose. He led PC to two Carolina Conference Championships and tied for another two Carolina Conference Championships. Gault-led Blue Hose tied for the South Atlantic Conference (SAC-8) Championship in 1978 and won the SAC-8 title in 1979.
Gault was named South Carolina Coach of the Year in 1964, 1966, 1968, 1972, and 1979. He was the Carolina Conference or SAC-8 Coach of the Year in 1969, 1970, 1977, 1979, and 1984.
One of his many accomplishments as athletic director was guiding the athletic program into NCAA’s Division II.
“Later in my life, I never walked away from a visit with him feeling anything but good,” said Brad Spearman ‘85, Board of Trustees member and past president of the PC Alumni Board. “He always cared, always remembered, and always encouraged.
“My life has been much more blessed, and I am a much better man for having known and played for Coach Gault.”
Before becoming the legendary head coach and AD at his alma mater, Coach Gault lettered in football, baseball, and basketball for the Blue Hose. He also served as a first lieutenant in the ROTC Program.
Coach Gault was a member of Student Council, the Glee Club, and Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, serving as president during his senior year. He earned a history degree from PC in 1948 and a master of education degree from the University of South Carolina in 1956.
After he graduated from PC, Coach Gault went on to begin his football coaching career as an assistant coach at Mullins High School in Mullins, S.C. He coached at Mullins from 1948 to 1950 before becoming an assistant coach at North Augusta High School.
Prior to deciding to serve his country by fighting in the Korean Conflict from 1951 to 1952, Coach Gault coached at North Augusta for one year. When he returned from military service, Gault was selected to become the head coach at North Augusta High School and was later chosen to serve as the school’s athletic director as well. He served the school from 1952 to 1963.
Gault led the Yellow Jackets to a record of 88-14-7 during his eleven-year career as head coach. He won three State Championship titles, had a 42-game winning streak during a 4-year span, and, in 1957, was named the head coach of the Shrine Bowl.
Being a mentor to young men was at the center of all that Coach Gault was about. His impact upon his players lasted throughout their lives. Many will attest to how their character was shaped by Coach Gault. He always talked about teaching his players about being good men and teaching them how to be good husbands and fathers.
“While he was fiercely competitive and hated to lose, football was never the main focus,” said Jimmy Spence ‘80. “I think instead, coaching and teaching football was a way for him to teach life lessons to all of us. The older I get, the more I realize that while he was such an outstanding high school and college football coach, he was even a better man.”
His former players remember fondly some of Coach Gault’s infamous sayings, like “Remember men, 90% of football is 50% mental” and “Come on in (the huddle) and stand up and take a knee.”
After his retirement, Coach Gault was the consummate Blue Hose fan. He attended nearly all of the home football and basketball games, as well as many other teams’ events.
“The honor of having the support of Coach Gault meant the world to me as it has for so many coaches and players through the years in all of our endeavors,” said Harold Nichols, PC’s assistant athletic director for development and director of the Scotsman Club.
Coach Gault married Joy Y. Godfrey on June 21, 1949. The PC Alumni Association presented Mrs. Gault with an Honorary Alumna Award in 2005. The couple has been stalwart supporters of PC, having been inducted into the William Plumer Jacobs Society which recognizes donors who have lifetime giving of $100,000 or more.
The Gault family legacy at PC runs deep and wide: Mrs. Gault’s father and mother, General Ansel ‘22 & Emmie ‘22 Godfrey; Coach Gault’s brother, Marvin Gault ‘48; the Gaults’ daughter Emmie Ann McLean ‘76 & son-in-law Bob McLean ‘76; son-in-law Stanley Gruber ‘73 (married to daughter Joy); Grandaughters Elizabeth Ann McCuen ‘09 and her husband, David ‘06, and Melissa Witherspoon ‘05; grandson Thomas McLean ‘12; and great-niece Casey Spain ‘05 and her husband, Chad ‘05; and great-nephew Matthew Gault ‘11.