Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum Passes Away At 86

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – The Hall of Fame basketball coach who led the University of Louisville Cardinals to two NCAA National Championships has died.

Denny Crum passed away at his home on Tuesday morning at the age of 86.

Crum, who played for and was an assistant to legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, left came to Louisville in 1971 and spent the next 30 years as the UofL men’s basketball coach.

His teams won the national title in 1980 and 1986. Six of his teams made it to the NCAA national semifinals. The University of Louisville said only five coaches all-time have coached more Final Four teams than Crum. He was named “Cool Hand Luke” by former commentator Al McGuire, a nickname which stuck with many UofL athletes.

Crum was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame upon its founding by the National Association of Basketball coaches in 2006.

After his retirement, Crum and was the co-host of a daily radio show with former University of Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall.

The KFC Yum! Center’s basketball court, which is the home court for the UofL Cardinals, was named Denny Crum Court in his honor back in 2007 for Freedom Hall. The court was transferred over to the Yum! Center in 2010.

Current UofL Men’s Basketball Coach Kenny Payne, who played for Crum at Louisville from 1985 to 1989, gave a statement on Tuesday’s sad loss for the basketball world.

“Today is a sad day for me personally, as well as the basketball world,” Payne said. “My thoughts go through all the lessons that he taught, not just to me, but every player he ever came in contact with. Those lessons are still relevant today.  We were so blessed to have him in our lives.  He was a true treasure who gave so much to university and the community.  We must keep his memory alive.  My prayers go out to his family and especially Susan.  He is in a better place.  Rest in peace Coach.  You touched so many.  Well done.”

UofL President Dr. Kim Schatzel said the world has lost a basketball legend.

“The University of Louisville, our community and college basketball fans everywhere have lost a legend in Coach Denny Crum,” Schatzel said. “Whether he was leading his beloved Cardinal teams, representing the university with alumni and friends or supporting the many community organizations that counted on his generous spirit and enthusiasm, Coach Crum left a legacy that is unmatched. He will be remembered not only for the many wins and championships, but also for his calm demeanor, warm sense of humor and deep love for his adopted hometown and its people. Our lives are better for having known him. Our hearts go out to Susan and the entire Crum family.”

UofL Athletic Director Josh Heird said Crum deeply cared for his players, the UofL community and its fans.

“Today is an extremely sad day for all of us who love the Louisville Cardinals,” Heird said. “Coach Crum brought so much joy and happiness to the UofL campus, the Louisville community, and countless fans across the country and the world for so many years. He embodied what a coach should be: he cared deeply about his players, he worked tirelessly for his university, he espoused the right values and stuck to them and he lived each and every day for his family. Coach gave his heart and soul to this university and this community and he will forever be a part of our past, present and future. Our prayers are with his wife, Susan, and the entire Crum family. In the days, weeks and months ahead, we will honor and celebrate the wonderful life of Coach Denny Crum.”

Crum is survived by his wife, Susan Sweeney Crum, and his three adult children.

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