After obtained a master's degree in physical education from Columbia University in New York, Ernie got his start as a teacher, coach and athletic director at a high school in Montclair, NJ, followed by a role as athletic director at Montclair Teachers College. In 1940, he joined the Michigan athletic staff and was an assistant coach for football, basketball and baseball, also serving as a chief football scout. He became known for a balanced approach to academics and athletics. Then in 1952, he accepted a new position at Penn State, with the roles of dean of physical education and athletic director. Ernie also helped establish a reputation by founding Penn State's Sports Research Institute and served a term as vice president and secretary treasurer for the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA).
Although Ernie would not have known, as the connection was remote, the football team's starting quarterback in 1964 was his distant cousin Gary Wydman, this website's "Photo of the Month" for September 2022.
Ernie remained at Penn State until retirement in 1970. Within a year, he joined the University of Miami as temporary athletic director and stayed until 1973. He is mentioned in a number of books about Paterno, among them the 1971 autobiography, Joe Paterno: "Football My Way," with Mervin D. Hyman and Gordon S. White Jr. The book cites Ernie as an "astute administrator" who had "found the athletic finances in a deplorable condition" when first hired and then took corrective measures. It also described a host of inter-personal clashes with Paterno over on- and off-the-field issues.
Born in Pittsburgh, Ernie was the son of Jarrette "Ernest" and Melinda Jane "Jennie" (Browning) McCoy of the family of Lyman and Mary Ann (McClanahan) Gaumer of Adamsville, Muskingum County, OH.