PHILADELPHIA - The Penn Athletics family lost one of its most extraordinary members on Friday with the announcement of the passing of C. Robert "Bob" Paul. He died near his home in Bayside, N.Y. at the age of 93.

A 1939 graduate of the University's Wharton School, Paul was Penn's sports information director from 1953-61. During that time, he is credited with playing an integral role in the formation of the Philadelphia Big 5, and he oversaw the original press conference in New York City announcing the formation of the Ivy League. Paul also played a central role in helping the Penn Relays become one of the premier annual track & field events in the United States. In 1990, he received the University's Alumni Award of Merit.

During his tenure as Penn's SID, Paul talked with Penn business manager John Rossiter about having the five Division I schools at the time play at The Palestra, to cut down on expenses. At the time, Penn and Villanova hosted games at The Palestra, while Temple, Saint Joseph's and La Salle mostly played nearby at Convention Hall. The alliance took shape in 1954, with games beginning the next year.

"He never envisioned the Big 5 becoming what it did become," Ed Fabricius, who succeeded Paul as Penn's SID, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "He just envisioned the schools playing in the same place to save money."

Paul was most recently on campus in the fall of 2009, joining members of Penn's 1959 Ivy League championship football team for their 50th reunion. Boasting one of the keenest memories around, he followed Penn's teams right until his death, and frequently wrote to the athletic communications office to point out factual errors whenever he found them.

"I had originally met Bob in 1990, when I did an internship with USA Basketball in Colorado Springs," said Mike Mahoney, Penn's current Director of Athletic Communications. "Imagine my surprise, almost 15 years later, when I started at Penn and Bob's first letter arrived! His letters were always informative without being condescending, and invariably his recollection of events were correct when we looked into them. I always marveled at his memory.

"I saw Bob at our 2007 CoSIDA Convention -- it was the organization's 50th convention, and they invited back some of the original members," Mahoney continued. "We had a wonderful conversation. He is an original, and I say that in the best way. I think anyone who knows him would tell you that, as well. There will never be another Bob Paul."

Though small in stature, Paul is among the giants in the sports information field. He was one of the original founders of the both the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) as well as the ECAC's version (ECAC-SIDA). Both organizations still exist today. Paul was CoSIDA's second President, in 1956-57, and he was inducted into the organization's first Hall of Fame class in 1969. In 1995, Paul was presented with CoSIDA's Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition, Paul served as a Board member of both the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Hall of Fame, and was one of the founding Board members of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. He also chaired the NCAA's Public Relations Committee, and even served as a Vice President of the Americas for the International Cinema and Television Federation.

Paul left Penn in 1961 to take a job with the Amateur Athletic Union, and from there he moved to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in 1967 to serve as its first-ever Director of Public Information and press chief. Paul stayed with the USOC until his retirement in 1990, including making the move from New York City to Colorado Springs when the USOC moved operations in 1978. For years after his retirement, Paul was retained as a consultant and historian by the USOC.

"One of the American Olympic family's most respected, unique linchpins finally stepped through the mists of this life and into infinitude this weekend on Long Island, and with his death goes an important cornerstone of a long ago USOC and its remarkable history," wrote the USOC's longtime press agent, Mike Moran. "C. Robert Paul Jr. died at 93 on Friday, bringing conclusion to a lifetime spent amassing knowledge, history and records of amateur athletics and the Olympic Games, garnering friendships among respected journalists and gold medalists alike." (Click here to read Moran's entire appreciation of Mr. Paul)

Among many honors and awards, Paul was awarded the Olympic Order by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver he was honored with the Vikelas Plaque by the International Society of Olympic Historians.