Bearcat Great Ernst Passes Away
Will Ernst (left) with UC baseball head coach Ed Jucker in 1956.

Dec. 14, 2012

CINCINNATI — Former University of Cincinnati baseball and basketball standout Wilbur "Will" Ernst passed away on Tuesday (Dec. 11) at the age of 78 from complications related to Parkinson's disease.

Ernst, who played on the diamond and the hardwood for the Bearcats from 1953-56, was the one of the most dominant pitchers in school history. His 1.66 career ERA ranks second only behind UC hall-of-famer Bill Faul's 1.42 mark. Serving as team captain as a senior in 1956, he recorded a 0.87 ERA, which is second all time to Faul, who produced a .80 ERA in ’62. Additionally, Ernst ranks fourth all time in school history in career batting average against (.209).

As a member of the UC varsity basketball team, Ernst played three seasons (1953-54, 1954-55, 1955-55) for head coach George Smith, and played alongside the likes of UC greats Jack Twyman and Connie Dierking. As a reserve his first two seasons, he averaged 6.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game his first season and 4.4 point and 2.3 rebounds his second year. As a starter during his senior year, Ernst upped his averages to 12.2 points and 6.2 boards per game, and made a then-school record 21 consecutive free throws.

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education in 1956, Ernst returned to UC and received a master’s degree in administration in the 1960s.

Following his time at UC, he spent one year as a pitcher in the minor leagues. He was a coach in the Cincinnati Public School system, both at Withrow and Taft high schools.

In 1969, he moved his family to Spain for four years to coach and teach basketball. Upon returning to Ohio in 1973, Ernst took a job in the Hilliard (Ohio) school district, where he worked for 26 years first as a teacher and coach, and later as an administrator and athletic director.

Ernst’s visitation will be held on Saturday (Dec. 15) from 2-4 p.m. at Tidd Funeral Home in Hilliard, Ohio. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Hilliard Davidson Athletic Boosters (5100 Davidson Road, Hilliard, OH 43026) to be used to assist student-athletes in their pursuits on the court and in the classroom.

Click here to view Will Ernst’s obituary in the Cincinnati Enquirer.