While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Jason Franklin
Gilbert Ervin Steinke (1919–1995).
Legendary college football coach Gil Steinke took the Texas A&I Javelinas to six NAIA championships. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

STEINKE, GILBERT ERVIN [GIL] (1919–1995). Gilbert Ervin Steinke, renowned football coach, was born on May 3, 1919, in Brenham, Texas, to Otto Paul Steinke and Emma (Kramer) Steinke. He attended Ganado High School in the small South Texas town of Ganado, and in 1937, following his graduation, he went to Texas College of Arts and Industries (which later became Texas A&I University and eventually Texas A&M University¬–Kingsville) and played for the football team there. He played four seasons at the position of halfback and led the team in rushing for three consecutive seasons. During World War II Steinke served in the U.S. Navy and achieved the rank of lieutenant. He married Mary Anthony Houston on April 6, 1945. They had twin sons and a daughter.

Gil Steinke played four seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1945 to 1948, where he averaged four yards a carry. Obliged to retire from playing football after a neck injury, he followed his football career with assistant coaching jobs at Trinity, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M universities. Subsequently, in 1954 Texas A&I brought him back to the school as head coach of the football team, where he remained for twenty-three years. During his time at Texas A&I at the head coach position, the team posted a record of 182–61–4. The Texas A&I Javelinas, under Gil Steinke’s tutelage won six National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championships as well as ten Lone Star Conference championships. The team had an astounding thirty-nine-game winning streak by the time he retired after the 1976 season. The 1976 team also played exhibition games in Europe. Steinke stayed on as A&I athletic director until 1982. He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1971 and was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1976. Steinke is lauded as being a trailblazer in integrating college football in Texas; he regularly recruited black and Hispanic players. He recruited the first African American player, Sid Blanks, in 1960, and Blanks went on to become team captain in 1963.

Steinke came onboard as head coach for the USFL San Antonio Gunslingers and served in that capacity during the 1984 season and part of the 1985 season. The Gunslingers went 9–15 over two seasons with him at the helm before the USFL shut down the team. The league itself ended in 1986.  

Gil Steinke Statue.
A life-size statue of Gil Steinke was dedicated at Javelina Stadium in Kingsville on September 6, 2015. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Steinke died on May 10, 1995, in Austin after fighting a long battle against Alzheimer’s. He was seventy-six. Steinke was buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Caldwell in Burleson County, Texas. He was survived by his wife Mary, his twin sons Leslie and Larry, and his daughter Jan Starnes. In 1996 he was an inaugural inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame for his legendary coaching career. A scholarship fund is named in his honor at Texas A&M University–Kingsville. On September 6, 2014 a life-size statue of Steinke, sculpted by Armando Hinojosa, was dedicated at Javelina Stadium in Kingsville.


Jack Bechta, “Gil Steinke: The greatest coach you’ve never heard of,” Yahoo! Sports (https://sports.yahoo.com/news/gil-steinke-greatest-coach-youve-200017079--nfl.html), accessed November 1, 2016. “Gil Steinke,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=23757563), accessed October 30, 2016. Cecilia Aros Hunter and Leslie Gene Hunter, Texas A&M University Kingsville (Chicago: Arcadia Publishing 2000). New York Times, May 12, 1995. Players: Gil Steinke, NFL.com (http://www.nfl.com/player/gilsteinke/2526467/profile), accessed November 3, 2016. San Antonio Express-News, May 14, 1995; May 23, 1996. San Antonio Gunslingers, USFL.info (http://www.usfl.info/gunslingers/), accessed November 20, 2016. 

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Jason Franklin, "STEINKE, GILBERT ERVIN [GIL] ," accessed July 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fstdn.

Uploaded on May 30, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...