Hayden Fry, the College Football Hall of Fame coach who led Iowa for 20 seasons and produced one of the sport's most important coaching trees, died Tuesday in the Dallas area after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 90.
Fry's family confirmed his death, saying in a statement released by Iowa, "We are proud to know that our father's life had a positive influence on so many people, the players, the coaches, and the fans who played for, worked with, and supported his long and successful coaching career. His legend will live forever with the people he touched and inspired, and the programs he led to greater heights."
Memorial services will be announced later.
Fry went 143-89-6 at Iowa, including a 96-61-5 mark in Big Ten play. He coached the Hawkeyes to three Big Ten championships, three Rose Bowl appearances and 10 AP Top 25 finishes. He's responsible for the Tigerhawk logo that all Iowa sports teams use, as well as the "swarm" entrance to the field, the pink visitors locker room at Kinnick Stadium and the Pittsburgh Steelers-themed football uniforms Iowa still wears. Fry coached Iowa to 14 bowl appearances. Barry Kemp, the creator of the longtime TV show "Coach," attended Iowa and drew inspiration for the show's title character from Fry.
Before Iowa, Fry coached North Texas for six seasons and SMU for 11 seasons, recording a 232-178-10 overall record. He won coach of the year honors in three leagues, the Southwest Conference, the Missouri Valley Conference and the Big Ten, where he received the award three times. Fry also was Sporting News' national coach of the year in 1981.
He was inducted into college football's Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2010.
"Hayden Fry is a college football icon and an Iowa legend," Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz, a longtime Fry assistant who succeeded Fry after the 1998 season, said in a statement. "His Hall of Fame career is well known, 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 with 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."
Quite possibly Fry's biggest impact on the sport is the number of successful coaches who played for and/or coached under him. His coaching tree includes former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, former Iowa State and North Texas coach Dan McCarney and current college coaches Mark Stoops (Kentucky), Bo Pelini (Youngstown State) and Jay Norvell (Nevada).
"His vision included hiring coaches who would be forward-thinking and challenge each other," Ferentz's statement reads. "If you look across college football, you will see a part of his legacy in the coaches who he hired and mentored -- coaches like Barry Alvarez, Bill Snyder, Dan McCarney, Bob, Mike and Mark Stoops and many more."
Born Feb. 28, 1929 in Eastland, Texas, Fry played quarterback at Baylor and began his coaching career at Odessa High School in Texas before entering the college ranks at his alma mater in 1959. In 1961, he left to coach at Arkansas under Frank Broyles, who was Fry's position coach at Baylor. Fry spent only one season with the Razorbacks before landing his first head-coaching job at SMU, where he had five losing seasons before guiding the Mustangs to a Cotton Bowl appearance and a No. 10 final ranking in 1966.
Fry secretly began undergoing treatment for prostate cancer during the 1998 season and announced his retirement on Nov. 22, 1998. He lived in Nevada during most of his retirement.
"Iowa Athletics has lost an icon, a man that raised the bar for every Hawkeye program, and every member of our athletics department," Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said in a statement. "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."
Fry is survived by his wife, four sons, a daughter, a stepson and a stepdaughter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.