The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Bob Burns - Inducted 1985

Born Feb. 8, 1920, in Sioux City, Iowa. 1938 Sioux City Central HS grad. 1942 University of South Dakota. One of the most colorful and successful football coaches in state history, he began coaching in 1947 in Yankton. He also coached at Washington High, Augustana, the University of South Dakota and O’Gorman High School. In 23 years of coaching he was 145-62-6. A great storyteller, Burns was popular at banquets and clinics.

Burns was 8-2 and 8-1-1 at Yankton before moving to Washington. At WHS from 1949-55, Burns was 55-8-3. After opening 4-5, the Warriors lost just three times in the final six years, including a 37-game unbeaten streak. In 1956 he became Augustana coach, and the traditionally weak Vikings shocked area fans with consecutive wins over USD, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa (Augustana had never beaten SDSU or UNI). At Augustana, Burns was 28-20-3 in six years, leading the Vikings to the 1959 North Central Conference title (AC never won another NCC title). After a 1-9 season at USD in 1962, he left to enter private business.

After 14 years away from coaching, he became O’Gorman’s coach in 1976. The Knights were 45-22 in seven seasons under Burns, and O’Gorman won the inaugural Class 11AA state title in 1981. He was instrumental in starting the Dakota Bowl, an annual fundraiser-football game at O’Gorman that attracts more fans than any other prep game in the state.

“He had the ability to motivate ordinary athletes to perform extraordinary feats,' said John Simko, who played for Burns at WHS and Augustana.

As a player, Burns was an all-NCC quarterback at USD as a senior, though he was a wingback and fullback the previous two seasons. As a boxer, he went to national Golden Gloves tournaments in Chicago and New York.

As a World War II paratrooper, he received the Silver Star for his heroism during the D-Day invasion of 1944.


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