USF Renames Phelan Hall in Honor of Burl A. Toler, Co-Captain of Renowned 1951 Football Team and First African-American Official in the NFL

Burl Toler

“This dedication helps ensure that future Dons will learn [Toler’s] name and his story, and that Toler’s legacy will live in the heart of our campus, in the heart of our city.”

Tomorrow, May 9, the University of San Francisco will dedicate Burl A. Toler Hall, renaming the student residence, Phelan Hall, in honor of Burl Toler ’52, MA ’66. Toler was the co-captain of USF’s famous 1951 football team, the first African-American official in a major American professional sports league, and a noted Bay Area educator.

To commemorate the event and what would have been Toler’s 89th birthday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has pronounced May 9, 2017 as Burl A. Toler Day in San Francisco.

The dedication of Burl A. Toler Hall is the culmination of an effort by USF students and the university’s administration to address the complex historical legacy of James D. Phelan, and celebrate the memory of a hometown hero, who was co-captain of the undefeated 1951 USF football team. A team that many argue was the best collegiate football team of all time, the 1951 Dons unanimously refused to leave the team’s two African-American players behind and opted out of all post-season bowl games. Toler went on to make sports history as the first African-American official in the National Football League.

“The USF community of students, faculty, staff and alumni is proud to recognize our distinguished alumnus, Burl A. Toler,” said USF President Paul Fitzgerald, S.J. “This dedication helps to ensure that future Dons will learn his name and his story, and that Toler’s legacy will live in the heart of our campus, in the heart of our city.”

Toler received a Bachelor of Science, teaching credentials, and a master’s in…

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