Memorial service set for James "Spec" Landrum


A memorial service for James "Spec" Landrum will be held on Wed., Nov. 30 at 7:00 p.m. in…

Georgia (Nov 11, 2011) —  

A memorial service for James "Spec" Landrum will be held on Wed., Nov. 30 at 7:00 p.m. in the Stillwell Theater on the campus of Kennesaw State University.


Below is the original release issued by Kennesaw State University after the passing of Landrum, the university’s first athletic director.

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov. 11, 2011) — The Kennesaw State University community is mourning the death of James “Spec” Landrum, the university’s first athletic director. Landrum launched Kennesaw State’s first intercollegiate athletics program in 1981.
Landrum, 94, served as athletic director at Kennesaw State from 1981 to 1987, after a distinguished career coaching football at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. He came back to Kennesaw State years later to help the university move from NCAA Division II to Division I.
“We are saddened by Spec’s passing, and we extend our condolences to his family and friends,” said Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp. “He left a legacy of excellence in athletics that still lives on. Spec built the foundation of what is now an NCAA Division I athletic program. We wouldn’t be where we are today without his leadership in establishing KSU’s athletics program.”
Landrum was born in 1917 in Stephens County, Ga. He played football at South Georgia College and at Mercer University –– he was a tailback in the single wing –– and went on to coach at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech after coaching at Canton High School and in the Atlanta school system. He started coaching in 1940.
Upon hearing of Landrum’s passing, current Kennesaw State Director of Athletics Vaughn Williams stated, “The Owl Family mourns the loss of a man who was a true servant leader. He was a man with a great vision and passion for Kennesaw athletics.  We extend our prayers and sympathy to Spec’s widow, Dr. Mildred Landrum, and her family.”
Senior Associate Athletic Director Scott Whitlock – who served on Landrum’s staff at Kennesaw State during the early years said, “I’m just devastated.  Our university lost a giant today, and I lost a man that I looked upon as a second dad.  Coach Landrum was the first to believe in me.  In fact, he took a chance on a lot of young coaches in the mid-80s including me - a 23 year old kid.  Professionally and personally, I owe him so much.  Coach Landrum will always live in my heart and Dr. Landrum and the Landrum family are in my prayers.”
Landrum got his nickname, “Spec,” when he was in the seventh grade and it stuck throughout his life. “I was as freckled as freckles can get on a person,” Landrum said during an oral history recorded for Kennesaw State. “I just reached the point where nobody except my family [called me James], and half of them called me Spec. My mother never did. My oldest brother didn’t. They called me James. (But the name Spec) just stuck with me, so I gave up! ”
In his early years, Landrum was an all-around athlete. “I could play anything,” he said. “I was a pretty good football player in college.”
But he really wanted to coach, so he moved to Atlanta. “I got a job teaching at Roosevelt High School,” he recalled in the oral history. “The first year I went there as an assistant in football, assistant in basketball and head track coach, and full load teaching. The head coaching job at Grady High School opened. So anyway, I ended up at Grady High School, and then came to coaching at Georgia.”
Landrum coached football at Georgia from 1951 to 1954. Then he went on to coach at Georgia Tech for about 13 years. He went on to serve as president of the Georgia Conservancy before he was hired by KSU’s first president, Horace Sturgis, as coordinator of development and alumni relations. The university then was known as Kennesaw College, and enrolled only about 4,000 students at that time. When Betty Siegel became president in 1981, she wanted to start an athletics program and named Landrum the school’s first athletic director.
Retired KSU Athletic Director Dave Waples, who served for 23 years as Landrum’s successor (1987-2010), captured the sentiments of all who knew and were associated with the university’s first athletic director: “Spec was a legend,” Waples stated, “and he was and remains the foundation of the KSU athletic program.”
For more information, and to read a tribute to “Spec” Landrum, please visit the Kennesaw State Athletics website at:
# # #
Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of more than 24,100 students from 142 countries.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit