It’s a sad day for sports fans with the news that Jim Sweeney, a legendary Fresno State Coach, has died at the age of 83. Sweeney’s career in sports is an impressive one, garnering numerous victories along the way.
Prior to his successful career with the Bulldogs, Sweeney headed teams at Montana State and Washington State. He was hired at Fresno State in 1976, leaving briefly to work as an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Cardinals.
Sweeney returned to Fresno State in 1980 where he remained as head coach until his retirement.
According to an article by CBS News, Coach Sweeney led the Bulldog’s football team for 19 seasons and achieved a record 144 wins before his retirement at the close of the 1996 season. He finished his impressive career with 200 wins in 32 seasons as a head coach.
The announcement of Sweeney’s passing was released by Fresno State late Friday. In the statement, the school’s athletic director Thomas Boeh said the following:
“Most of what our football program has accomplished in recent years was clearly made possible by the path that Coach Sweeney blazed for Fresno State football throughout his two decades of leadership. He was a man of vision, toughness and character who led the Bulldogs to new heights and went on to become a national icon.”
Current Bulldogs coach Tim DeRutyer spoke on Twitter about Jim Sweeney’s passing:
“Coach Sweeney is an icon in college football who put Fresno State football on the national map. His larger than life personality and tenacity in which he coached the game are legendary. My thoughts and prayers are with the Sweeney family. What an honor it is to follow his legacy.”
The Fresno Bee writes that although no details regarding Jim Sweeney’s passing have been released, failing health led the former coach and his wife to relocate to San Joaquin Gardens, a senior living community with continuing care services in Fresno.
The prolific football coach was recently admitted to Saint Agnes Medical Center before being released the following week. John Wallace, former Bulldogs Foundation president, has reported that Jim Sweeney was at San Joaquin Gardens at the time of his passing.