Don James, the most successful and beloved coach in the history of the University of Washington football program and architect of an unbeaten season, a national championship and winner of six conference championships in 18 seasons at UW, died Sunday morning at home from the effects of pancreatic cancer, the UW announced.
James was 80 years old, and died while comforted by family, according to a release from the school.
“My family and I are extremely saddened to hear of Coach James’ passing,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said in a UW release. “His accomplishments as a football coach stand alone, but what made him truly special is the quality of man he was away from the game. The guidance and leadership he instilled into this program and community are still felt today, and will continue to be felt here for a long, long time.”
In 18 seasons as UW’s coach, “The Dawgfather” established himself as a legendary figure in the landscape of UW’s program. His teams won 153 games, won the Rose Bowl four times and appeared in it six, and finished 12-0 during the 1991 season considered the greatest in UW’s history. Washington’s three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances from 1990-92 still stand as the most successful 3-year stint in the program’s history.
James retired from coaching following the 1992 season in protest of sanctions levied against the UW by the NCAA, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997. A premium seating area in Husky Stadium bears his name.
Details of a memorial service are forthcoming, the UW announced.
James is survived by his wife, Carol, with whom he had three children, Jeff, Jill and Jeni, and 10 grandchildren. James and Carol were married in August of 1952 and recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary.
We’ll have more later.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple