Arthur August (A.A.) Schabinger was a prominent force in the early development of basketball as an intercollegiate and Olympic sport. Schabinger, a Sabetha, Kan. native, came to Ottawa University in 1915 as head football, men’s and women’s basketball, and track coach. He also served as Director of Athletics.
He was head football coach from 1915 to 1917 and in again in 1919. Schabinger was interrupted by infantry service in World War I. He had a record of 9-17-4 for a .300 winning percentage and coached three All-Conference performers.
Where Schabinger made his mark at OU was on the basketball court. He was a huge proponent for women’s basketball, coaching the team during the 1918-19 season. Schabinger was the head men’s basketball coach from 1915-1920, finishing with an overall record of 65-23. He led the Braves to three KIAC Championships, two second place finishes, and coached 11 All-Conference performers. During the 1917-18 season, Schabinger led OU to the prestigious Southwest Patriotic Tournament Championship held at the Convention Hall in Kansas City, Mo.
He was the head track and field coach from 1916 to 1920. He coached three Individual Conference Champions and had 20 All-Conference performers.
He left Ottawa University after the 1920 track season and went on to coach men’s basketball and track at Emporia State University. Schabinger’s Hornets went 24-9 during his two years (1920-22).
He then moved on to Creighton University (Omaha, Neb.) where he coached from 1922 to 1935. He led the Bluejays to a record of 163-66 and eight conference championships. Over the course of his 20-year basketball coaching career, Schabinger achieved an impressive .802 winning percentage. He retired from coaching after the 1935 season and moved to Chicago to promote the use and sale of the “Last-Bilt” basketball, developed by Milton Reach of Spalding Sporting Goods.
Schabinger continued to work in the basketball realm off of the court. He was selected by the United States Olympic Committee to direct and conduct national intercollegiate basketball tournaments, from which the first Olympic basketball team was chosen. Schabinger was also the chairman of the AAU National Basketball Committee for four years. He was active in the founding of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) when the CBRC threatened to reduce the dribble to one bounce in 1927 and served as NABC president from 1931-1932. The organization presented Schabinger its prestigious Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Award in 1955 and made him an honorary life member.
Schabinger also founded the Official Sports Film Service in 1946 in Chicago, Ill., enabling uniform interpretation of rules through use of game footage. Officials across the nation could become more consistent in enforcing the rules of basketball, football, and baseball. These instructional films were translated into the language of every nation across Europe where those sports were played.
Schabinger’s place in basketball history was cemented with his induction in 1961 into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was inducted into the HAF Hall of Fame in 1962 and was named to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1963. Schabinger was a basketball pioneer and promoter when the game became formalized and developed on national and international levels.