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Johnny Orr papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RS 24/3/13

Scope and Content

This collection (1993-2014) contains newspaper clippings, biographical information, and student research papers documenting Johnny Orr’s coaching career at Iowa State. These materials were collected and organized by members of the ISU Special Collections and University Archives staff.


  • Creation: 1993-2014

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


John (Johnny) Michael Orr was born on June 10, 1927, at Pittsburg, Kansas. He spent three semesters at the University of Illinois (1944-1945), but graduated with a B.A. (1949) in Social Studies from Beloit College.

Orr was a Head Men's Basketball Coach for three Division 1 universities: University of Massachusetts (1963-1966), University of Michigan (1967-1980), and Iowa State University (1981-1994). At Michigan, he advanced to the NCAA tournament title game (1976), losing to undefeated Indiana. He also was named Big Ten Coach of the Year twice (1974, 1977) and National Basketball Coach of the Year twice (1976, 1977). He left Michigan as its all-time winningest basketball coach (209-113).

Johnny Orr was introduced as Iowa State's Men's Basketball Coach on March 25, 1980. Initially, ISU was looking to hire Orr's assistant at Michigan, Bill Frieder. Orr began to resurrect a program that had seen little success for decades. By 1984, Orr led Iowa State to its first post-season appearance in 40 years when they were invited to play in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). Following that success, Orr took Iowa State to multiple NCAA Tournaments (1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993), advancing to the first NCAA Sweet 16 in program history (1986) by beating his former team, Michigan, in the second round. "Hilton Magic" was started under Orr's leadership, when the sold-out crowds in Hilton Coliseum would help teams win games by creating a loud home court advantage.

Orr announced his retirement from Iowa State University and coaching on April 14, 1994. He finished his ISU career with a record of 218-200 and had an overall coaching record of 466-346. His last attended event at Hilton Coliseum was a game against his old school, Michigan, on November 17, 2013. Orr passed away on December 31, 2013.


0.42 Linear Feet (1 document box)


The collection is organized alphabetically.

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 24/3/13. Johnny Orr papers, 1993-2014
May 9, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672