Robert Hicks died at his home in Newport Beach, California, on April 7, 2018, at age 91. A Wagner Athletics Hall of Fame member, he served 16 seasons (1962–77) as the Wagner football coach and was one of the most successful coaches in the program’s history, with 77 wins. Hicks guided the Seahawks to two undefeated campaigns in 1964 and 1967, capturing the Lambert Trophy for the latter as the top team in the East.
An excellent developer of talent, Hicks coached several All-Americans. One of them, Andy Senese ’70, remembered Hicks for his “tough but fair” coaching style. Instead of cursing, he would substitute his own favorite phrases, “cheese and crackers” and “piss and vinegar.” He was always dressed in a hat, jacket, and tie. Rich Kotite ’66, who spent 26 years in the NFL as a player and as head coach for the Eagles and the Jets, said, “He was the best coach I ever had. This guy was special.”
During Hicks’s own college years, he co-captained the Penn State football team and played in the 1948 Cotton Bowl. He coached at Albright College, Juniata College, DePauw University, and the University of Detroit before Wagner. After his retirement from Wagner, he served as Cranford Township (New Jersey) director of pools for many years, maintaining recreational facilities and establishing a workout facility for the community.