STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach has died at 61 after being hospitalized with heart condition, school says.
According to Mississippi State University, Leach dies on Monday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.
In a statement, the Leach family said, “Mike was a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather. He was able to participate in organ donation at UMMC as a final act of charity. We are supported and uplifted by the outpouring of love and prayers from family, friends, Mississippi State University, the hospital staff, and football fans around the world. Thank you for sharing in the joy of our beloved husband and father’s life.”
Leach became Mississippi State’s 34th head football coach on Jan. 9, 2020. He graduated with honors from Brigham Young University in 1983, obtained a master’s degree from the U.S. Sports Academy and earned his Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University.
MSU described him as “one of the most successful coaches in the history of college football,” boasting 158 career wins as an FBS coach.
Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum said, “Coach Mike Leach cast a tremendous shadow not just over Mississippi State University, but over the entire college football landscape. His innovative “Air Raid” offense changed the game. Mike’s keen intellect and unvarnished candor made him one of the nation’s true coaching legends. His passing brings great sadness to our university, to the Southeastern Conference, and to all who loved college football. I will miss Mike’s profound curiosity, his honesty, and his wide-open approach to pursuing excellence in all things.
“Mike’s death also underscores the fragility and uncertainty of our lives,” Keenum said. “Three weeks ago, Mike and I were together in the locker room celebrating a hard-fought victory in Oxford. Mike Leach truly embraced life and lived in such a manner as to leave no regrets. That’s a worthy legacy. May God bless the Leach family during these days and hours. The prayers of the Bulldog family go with them.”
MSU Interim Athletics Director Bracky Brett said, “We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach. College football lost one of its most beloved figures today, but his legacy will last forever. Mike’s energetic personality, influential presence and extraordinary leadership touched millions of athletes, students, coaches, fans, family and friends for decades.
“Mike was an innovator, pioneer and visionary. He was a college football icon, a coaching legend but an even better person,” said Brett. “We are all better for having known Mike Leach. The thoughts and prayers of Mississippi State University and the entire Bulldog family are with his wife Sharon, his children and the entire Leach family.”