Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach died Monday following complications from a heart condition, university officials said Tuesday in a statement. He was 61.
In a statement released by the university, Leach’s family remembered him as “a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather.”
“He was able to participate in organ donation at UMMC (University of Mississippi Medical Center) as a final act of charity,” they said. “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 was named as Mississippi State’s head football on Jan. 9, 2020. He previously coached for 10 years at Texas Tech University and for eight seasons at Washington State University.
“Coach Mike Leach cast a tremendous shadow not just over Mississippi State University, but over the entire college football landscape,” MSU President Mark Keenum said in a statement.
“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.”
University officials said Sunday that Leach had a “personal health issue at his home” that prompted him to be taken by ambulance to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Officials did not elaborate on the nature of the issue, although the Clarion Ledger on Monday reported that Leach had suffered “a massive heart attack.”
In his 21 years as head coach, Leach led teams to 19 bowl games and captured two conference division titles, according to Mississippi State officials. He had an overall 158-107 record.
“College football lost one of its most beloved figures today, but his legacy will last forever,” MSU interim athletics director Bracky Brett said.
“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. We are all better for having known Mike Leach.”
Leach is survived by his wife, Sharon, and their children, Janeen, Kimberly, Cody and Kiersten.