head coach of fencing, 1952-67
inducted October 2, 2008
Since the establishment of the NCAA fencing championship in 1941, Columbia has consistently ranked as one of the top fencing schools in the nation.
One of the most successful runs in Columbia fencing history began in the 1952-53 season, with the arrival of head coach Irv DeKoff.
Starting in 1953-54, only his second year on Morningside Heights, DeKoff led Columbia to the national championship final round in five consecutive seasons. The Lions won the national title twice... and finished second three times, each time by four touches or less.
Upon the start of formal Ivy League competition in 1955-56, DeKoff’s Lions jumped to the top of the League – winning the Ancient Eight title in 11 of the first 12 seasons of official round robin competition.
Under DeKoff, Columbia also won two more national championships in 1963 and 1965. His four national championship teams are second-most among Ivy League head coaches all-time, behind only Columbia’s George Kolombatovich and Aladar Kogler.
Dekoff was responsible for the development of numerous talented fencers, including 18 All-Americans, 8 NCAA individual champions and two Olympians.
He concluded his Columbia coaching career in 1967, and was subsequently appointed Dean of Eisenhower College in upstate New York.
A former President of the National Fencing Coaches Association of America, DeKoff was inducted into the United States Fencing Association Hall of Fame in 1967.