Legendary Iowa coach, Hall of Famer Hayden Fry dies at age 90 following cancer battle

Legendary Iowa coach, Hall of Famer Hayden Fry dies at age 90 following cancer battle

Hayden, a legendary Iowa coach passed away at the age of 90 after fighting a battle with cancer on Tuesday. He served as the coach at Iowa for many years from 1979-98 during which his team won three Big Ten titles with the program in the years 1981, 1985, and 1990). 

On his passing away, Fry’s family stated, “Our family would like to pass along our heartfelt thanks to the caregivers who made Hayden’s comfort their priority”. They also thanked everyone for their love and support. 

Hayden Fry | A Legend In Himself!  

Hayden Fry was born in Eastland, Texas, and has played quarterback at Baylor from 1947-50. After coaching the team at high school, he took over at SMU before the 1962 session. 

Later in 1966, Hayden won the Southwest Conference title with the Mustang. Just after that, he joined North Texas in 1973 in which he managed to establish a scoring record of 40-23-3 in 6 sessions. However, he is known for his tenure at Iowa during which he joined Hawkeyes in 1979, successfully leading the team to 14 bowl games, 3 Rose Bowl Berths & 3-Double-digit win seasons. 

It was in 1998 when he retired after the season in which he somehow managed to coach while undergoing the treatment for prostate cancer in secret. It was after retirement when he moved back to Texas closer to the family. 

To this, Hayden Fry’s family mentioned, “Though Hayden was born in Texas and moved there more recently to be closer to our family, his love for the University of Iowa, his players and coaches, the people of Iowa, and the state of Iowa, is well known”. 

Athletic director Gary Barta stated – 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Shirley and the entire Fry family as we mourn the loss of Hayden Fry; a great leader, an outstanding coach, and a man as genuine and loyal as they come,” he said. “Iowa Athletics has lost an icon, a man that raised the bar for every Hawkeye program, and every member of our athletics department. Hayden was respected by everyone who knew him. His passing creates a void for all those who played for, coached with, and supported his successful tenure as our head football coach.”

It was Hayden Fry who appointed the current Iowa coach, Kirk Ferentz in 1981. Frentz spent 9 seasons under Fry before he was appointed as a coach Maine. Right after Fry’s retirement, Ferentz took over the entire program that his mentor built a record worth remembering. On this sad day of Fry’s passing away, Kirk Ferentz said that Hayden Fry is a college football coach icon and an Iowa legend nonetheless. His exceptional career is something, everyone knows about. Adding to this he stated, “ but personally, he will always be the man who took a chance on me at the start of my coaching career. I was proud to coach him and honored to succeed him when he retired. He’s been a great mentor and a true friend. I am forever grateful to him.”

Ferentz also shared a story dating back to 1981, he said –

“Back in 1981, I sent three job applications out: one went to Appalachian State — I never heard back from them; I sent one to Hawaii, had a phone interview, but they needed someone who knew the west coast; the third went to Hayden Fry at Iowa,” Ferentz said. “Coach Fry hired me based on Coach [Joe] Moore’s recommendation (and in spite of my lack of experience and local knowledge) and showed me how to build and maintain a winning program.”

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Paul Maldonado

Every team has a designated sports enthusiast, and in the Bulletin Bits team, that enthusiast is Paul. He brings energy and warmth to the team with his constant quips and snippets from the sporting world. His dedication to sports leaks into his work as well. His stories are unique perspectives into the sporting world that take the ordinary man into the shoes of the athletes. He is a talented sportsman himself, with many accolades under his belt already. What stops him from becoming a professional athlete is his inability to choose one sport to pursue for the better!

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