Indiana's Football Coach Passes Away

Indiana football coach Terry Hoeppner died Tuesday of complications from a brain tumor, a university spokesman said. He was 59.

Hoeppner, who had two brain surgeries in the past 18 months, missed nearly four months on medical leave. He died at 6:50 a.m. at Bloomington Hospital, said J.D. Campbell, the school's sports information director.

"Terry's fight was courageous and will serve as an inspiration to those who have known him," Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan said in a statement. "This is a truly sad day for our community and all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Hoeppner family and to those whose lives he has touched."

Indiana University team physician Dr. Larry Rink confirmed in the statement that Hoeppner was being treated for the brain tumor over the past 18 months. During Hoeppner's illness the school released few details of the nature of his condition or his treatment.

Late last week, the school said assistant Bill Lynch would replace him as coach for the 2007 season.

Hoeppner, who went 9-14 in two seasons as Indiana's coach, had taken three medical leaves since December 2005. He hadn't been seen publicly since late February.

Hoeppner left the team temporarily three times in 15 months starting in December 2005 when doctors removed a tumor from his right temple a year after athletic director Rick Greenspan hired Hoeppner.

His wife, Jane, said in a statement announcing Lynch's hiring that her husband was undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments. He had been hospitalized last week, but was expected to return home Friday.

In September, a CT scan revealed another growth in the same area of Hoeppner's brain. When doctors operated a second time, Hoeppner left the team -- an absence expected to last two weeks that extended through spring practice.

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Terry Hoeppner will take a medical leave from the team in 2007. Last season, Hoeppner brought the Hoosiers on the brink of a bowl appearance. Leading the youngest team in the Big Ten to five victories - its most since the 2001 campaign - Hoeppner has established a newfound enthusiasm for Indiana football.

The 2006 Hoosiers picked up three Big Ten wins for the first time since 2001, including a 31-28 win over No. 13 Iowa. It marked the first time an Indiana team defeated a top-15 squad since a 31-10 win over No. 9 Ohio State on Oct. 10, 1987. Following the victory, the Hoosiers were selected as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week.

Indiana also claimed its first Big Ten road win since Nov. 10, 2001, downing Illinois, 34-32. Earning its final conference victory of the season, the Hoosiers dominated Michigan State, 46-21, on Homecoming to bring the Old Brass Spittoon back to Bloomington for the first time since 2001.

With a roster holding 49 true or redshirt freshmen and 72 underclassmen overall, Hoeppner's work is even more impressive. The Hoosiers led all teams with seven selections to the 2006 Sporting News Big Ten All-Freshman Team, including redshirt freshmen quarterback Kellen Lewis, wide receiver Nick Polk, defensive end Jammie Kirlew, buck Josh Bailey and safety Austin Thomas, and two true freshmen, offensive tackle Rodger Saffold and linebacker Will Patterson. Lewis, Bailey, Polk and Patterson also earned Sporting News Freshman All-America honors.

Additionally, junior cornerback Tracy Porter and sophomore wide receiver James Hardy earned All-Big Ten honors. The duo collected second team accolades from the conference media and honorable mention from the conference head coaches. Sophomore kick returner/running back Marcus Thigpen was named a SI.com All-America first teamer, an All-Film Team member by ESPN.com's Todd McShay, to the Rivals.com All-America first team and to the Scout.com All-American Team this offseason. Success was not limited to the field of play, as senior safety Will Meyers earned his second consecutive selection to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America first team. Meyers also earned Academic All-District V honors along with sophomore kicker Austin Starr.

Hoeppner made an immediate impact in his first year at the helm of the Hoosier program. In addition to leading Indiana to its first 4-1 start since 1994, Hoeppner rejuvenated an IU fan base that enjoyed a 39-percent increase in per-game attendance, a 46-percent increase in overall season ticket sales and a 110-percent increase in student season ticket sales.

Hoeppner not only helped generate a buzz about Indiana football, but he and his staff also installed an aggressive, big-play defense to go along with an exciting spread offense that threw a school-record 24 touchdown passes.

Furthermore, Hoeppner helped establish new IU football traditions. Two hours prior to each home game, fans and players engaged in "The Walk," as Indiana coaches and players marched through the tailgating areas en route to the "crimson gates" at Memorial Stadium. Hoeppner also dubbed Memorial Stadium "The Rock," a nod to the stadium's limestone construction. A three-ton remnant from the original stadium construction was placed near the north end zone, as the IU coaches now challenge the Hoosiers to "defend the rock." Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the coaches and players join The Marching Hundred band to sing the school fight song after every home victory.

Hoeppner, a Woodburn, Ind., native, who led Miami (Ohio) University to a pair of consecutive Mid-American Conference East Division titles and bowl game appearances for the first time in 30 years, was named Indiana University's 26th football coach on Dec. 17, 2004.

Upon his arrival, Hoeppner immediately set the tone for the future of Indiana football.

"Our players will walk, talk, act and think like champions in everything they do," he said. "Our goals are simple - 100-percent graduation rate, and the Rose Bowl. We will shoot for perfection, and we can settle for excellence."

During his head coaching career, Hoeppner has mentored 11 eventual NFL draft picks, including 2004 NFL Rookie of the Year and Super Bowl XL champion quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger says that the IU program is in terrific hands. "I can't say enough about Coach Hoeppner. He is an inspiration, a second father to me. I love him to death," he said. "I told him that I will always support him, because he has always supported me. He's a wise man who made a wise decision. Going home (to Indiana) has got to be a good feeling."

Roethlisberger says Hoeppner is the consummate player's coach.

"Indiana players are getting a great coach and a great mentor," Roethlisberger said. "He's touched so many lives in so many ways. He's going to do great things at IU. The players are going to love him. He's a players' coach."

Hoeppner arrived in Bloomington after spending 19 seasons at Miami, including the last six as head coach. During his head coaching tenure, Hoeppner helped restore the national spotlight to the tradition-rich RedHawk football program. In addition to compiling a 48-25 overall record, Miami finished among the top three in the MAC East each year of Hoeppner's tenure.

The RedHawks closed the 2003 season by winning the MAC and GMAC Bowl Championships and were ranked 10th in the final Associated Press poll and 12th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. In addition, Miami was rated as high as 11th in the Bowl Championship Series.

Hoeppner is the third former MU coach to eventually stroll the Hoosier sidelines. John Pont was a three-time first team All-MAC halfback at Miami from 1947-50 before moving onto an illustrious 28-year head coaching career that included stops at his alma mater (1956-62) and Indiana (1965-72). He directed Miami to three league titles and the 1962 Tangerine Bowl before earning 1967 National Coach of the Year honors for leading the Hoosiers to the Big Ten title and Rose Bowl.

Bill Mallory was a two-time all-league end at Miami in 1955-56 before embarking on a 27-year coaching career that included stops at Miami (1969-73) and Indiana (1984-96). He led Miami to the 1973 MAC and Tangerine Bowl titles, and he is the winningest coach in Indiana history. He directed the Hoosiers to six bowl games in eight seasons.

Just as Hoeppner followed Pont and Mallory's footsteps in Oxford, the 1969 Franklin (Ind.) College graduate is poised to do the same in Bloomington. Hoeppner is second on Miami's all-time wins list (48), and those victories include triumphs at Northwestern (1999, 2003), at North Carolina (2002), at Colorado State (2003) and vs. Louisville in the 2003 GMAC Bowl. A 2003 finalist for the Paul "Bear" Bryant National Coach of the Year, Hoeppner won the 2003 Schutt Sports Coach of the Year, the Columbus Dispatch Ohio College Coach of the Year and the MAC Coach of the Year.

Prior to taking over the MU program from former Northwestern coach Randy Walker in January, 1999, Hoeppner spent 13 seasons as an assistant coach, including Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Backs Coach from 1993-95 and Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator from 1995-98.

During the 1998 campaign, Hoeppner's defense ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense, fifth in pass efficiency defense and 16th in total defense. Miami's record with Hoeppner as Assistant Head Coach was 42-22-2 (.652)

During his 19-year Miami career, Hoeppner enjoyed considerable team and individual success. Miami gives special recognition to major victories - triumphs over programs from BCS conferences, and Hoeppner played a role in 12 such contests and six as head coach. Included in these decisions are wins at then-No. 8 LSU in 1986, at then-No. 25 Northwestern in 1995, at then-No. 12 Virginia Tech in 1997 and at then-No. 12 North Carolina in 1998.

Hoeppner's impact at Miami was felt on and off the football field. The RedHawks enjoyed at least five national television appearances in 2003 and 2004, and Miami's bid to the 2004 Independence Bowl secured the highest bowl payout in MAC history. Hoeppner has spearheaded efforts to renovate Yager Stadium and the development of the $5 million Walter L. Gross Family Student-Athlete Development Center.

A 1969 graduate of Franklin College with a bachelor's degree in physical education and minor in biology, Hoeppner earned his master's degree in education from Butler in 1983.

Hoeppner was invited to the St. Louis Cardinals' and Green Bay Packers' training camps, and he played one season each with the Detroit Wheels and the Charlotte Hornets of the World Football League.

Hoeppner and his wife, Jane, have three children - Drew, Amy (Steve) Fox and Allison (Drew) Balcam. The Hoeppners also have four grandchildren - Tucker and Spencer Fox and Tate and Quinn Balcam.

Story Courtesy: cbs.sportsline.com & AP Wire Reports


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