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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Ex-Washington State football coach sentenced for draft evasion

The sentencing was the culmination of a long-running courtroom saga, spiced by sensational testimony. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
The sentencing was the culmination of a long-running courtroom saga, spiced by sensational testimony. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, a former Washington State College football coach, pled guilty to draft evasion and was sentenced to one month in Spokane County Jail, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported.

This was the culmination of a long-running courtroom saga, spiced by sensational testimony. The woman he considered his mother claimed she was not his mother and Dietz was the illegitimate child of her husband. The woman he considered a sister denied any kinship with him. Serious questions were raised about whether the famous Native American football coach was actually Native American.

The first trial resorted in a hung jury. Dietz had now avoided a new trial by pleading guilty to the charge of falsifying his draft questionnaire for the purpose of evading service.

On his questionnaire, he claimed he was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation, but the government produced evidence indicating he was born in Wisconsin. He also claimed he was already engaged in an “essential war enterprise” by producing motion pictures, but no such pictures had been made.

Dietz played football alongside Jim Thorpe at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and later went on to become the coach of Washington State team in Pullman for three years. He became a local celebrity after leading the team to victory in the 1916 Rose Bowl. Fans marched through Pullman wearing Indian costumes in his honor.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame posthumously, in 2012.

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