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      Legendary Broncs Basketball Coach Dies

      The University of Texas-Pan American Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is saddened to announce that UTPA Hall of Famer and men TMs basketball head coach emeritus Sam Williams, who coached the Broncs to the 1963 NAIA National Championship, passed away on Monday at the age of 88 due to natural causes.

      Memorial service information will be released once available.

      The family is asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Sam Williams Endowed Scholarship fund. To do so, interested parties should make a check out to the UTPA Foundation, with Sam Williams Endowed Scholarship in the memo, and send it to UTPA Athletics at 1201 W. University Dr. in Edinburg, TX 78539.

      An inaugural member of the UTPA Hall of Fame in 2007, Williams was also inducted in the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame. Known as the Father of Broncs Basketball, Williams served the University as an educator for more than three decades, and coached the Broncs to 11 winning seasons, including four of at least 20 wins, in 15 years (1959-73). He remains UTPA TMs all-time winningest coach with 244 victories.

      After winning the 1963 NAIA National Championship, Williams earned the NAIA National Coach of the Year award. The very next season, he coached the Broncs right back to the title game in what was their third-straight post-season appearance.

      I feel like Coach Williams played a dual role all the years he was there, as a coach and a father figure, said Marty Urand (BS ~65), who played for Williams from 1962-65. The strongest thing about Coach Williams is that his players really loved him. It was a unique situation since the recruiting budget was so low. He really recruited those players on their positive feelings towards him. He TMll be missed very much.

      Williams oversaw the Broncs TM transition into an NCAA Division I program. In their first season after the move, the Broncs won 21 games and reached the 1968 NCAA Division II Southwest Regional, where they won their first round game. Shortly after the transition, Williams became a member of the NCAA Basketball Officials Committee.

      Williams was a pioneer in collegiate athletics in the late 1950s, as he was one of the first coaches to integrate his basketball program.

      People talk a lot about Glory Road and UTEP, how Don Haskins integrated college basketball in the mid-1960s, and that's a great story, Walter Yates (BS ~65), who played for Williams from 1961-64, told Los Arcos in July. But the truth is, Coach Williams was bringing in black players long before that. We could have had five black starters. I think we ended up with three, sometimes four.

      We had a nice mix of people and we all fit well together eventually, Yates said. We had blacks, Hispanics, a Jewish guy from New York, and an Irish guy from New York too. A real international team! Sometimes folks would come to see us play and figured that this was some kind of team specially created to push integration.

      One of the black players Williams recruited and coached was UTPA Hall of Famer Luke Jackson, who was the MVP of the 1963 NAIA National Tournament and went on to play in the NBA for the Philadelphia 76ers for eight seasons (1964-72) while making the 1964-65 NBA All-Rookie Team and NBA All-Star Teams. He also won an Olympic Gold Medal.

      Jackson was one of 10 players to be drafted by the NBA while Williams was the head coach. Four of those 10 played in NBA regular season games, including Howard Montgomery (San Francisco Warriors, 1962-63), Otto Moore (Detroit Pistons, 1969-71 and 1974-75, Phoenix Suns, 1971-72, Houston Rockets, 1972-73, Kansas City King, 1973-74, New Orleans Jazz, 1975-77) and Fred Taylor (Suns, 1970-71 and Cincinnati Royals, 1971-72).

      The Broncs rededicated the UTPA Fieldhouse center court in Williams' honor on Nov. 20, 2010. UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen also surprised Williams by naming him head coach emeritus. Several members of the 1962-63 Broncs then presented Williams with the original NAIA National Championship banner, which had been hanging in the UTPA Fieldhouse since 1963.

      Williams is one of only two coaches in school history to earn emeritus status, with the other being baseball head coach emeritus and UTPA Hall of Famer Al Ogletree.

      Coach Williams gave his heart and soul to Pan Am and his ball players, Nelsen said. He was and will always be an extremely important part of our history. We Broncs will miss him.

      Williams is survived by his son, David, and his daughter, Tessa.

      This is a difficult day for everyone associated with UTPA Athletics, UTPA Director of Athletics Chris King said. Sam Williams was one of the greatest coaches that ever worked at this institution. He helped to lay the foundation that got this program to the NCAA Division I level and allowed us to expand to where we are today. We offer our condolences to the Williams family during this difficult time.

      Memorial services in memory of UTPA Hall of Famer and men's basketball head coach emeritus Sam Williams, who coached the Broncs to the 1963 NAIA National Championship, will be held on Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27.

      Williams passed away on Monday at the age of 88 due to natural causes.

      A gathering will be held at Kreidler Funeral Home, which is located at 314 N. 10th St. in McAllen, on Friday from 6-8 p.m.

      A memorial service will be held at Kreidler Funeral Home on Saturday at 10 a.m.

      UTPA Athletics will celebrate the life of Williams during a special ceremony at homecoming on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at the UTPA Fieldhouse.

      The family is asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Sam Williams Endowed Scholarship fund. To do so, interested parties should make a check out to the UTPA Foundation, with Sam Williams Endowed Scholarship in the memo, and send it to UTPA Athletics at 1201 W. University Dr. in Edinburg, TX 78539. Donations to the Sam Williams Endowed Scholarship can also be made with a valid credit or debit card by calling the UTPA Foundation Office at (956) 665-5301.

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