Hillsdale Loses its Greatest Charger

Former Athletic Director Jack McAvoy passes away at age 77

Hillsdale College Press Release

May 23, 2008 – Former Hillsdale College athletic director John H. “Jack” McAvoy passed away on Thursday, May 22, at his home in Dowagiac, Michigan. He was 77 years old.

One of the most influential figures in the history of Hillsdale College athletics, McAvoy was a 1955 Hillsdale alumnus and served the College for nearly 30 years in various positions. Beginning in 1967, he spent six years as assistant football coach and three as head football coach. He was also head basketball coach for the 1967-68 season. From 1976 until his retirement in 1996, he served as Athletic Director. In addition to these positions, he served variously as Director of Development and Director of Foundation Giving.

“With Jack’s passing, we have lost a true icon of Hillsdale College athletics,” said current Athletic Director Dr. Mike Kovalchik. “Jack was a man’s man. His contributions to the athletic department are immeasurable, and thousands of student athletes, both former and current, have benefited greatly from his presence. Through Jack’s fundraising efforts, we were able to build the George Roche Health Education and Sports Complex in 1988, something that could not have happened without him.

“Personally, I have lost a dear friend,” Kovalchik added.

As a student at Hillsdale College from 1951-54, McAvoy played football and lettered in track and basketball. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army and served as youth activities director in the U.S. Army Special Services. In 1957, he returned to his high school alma mater, Bangor High School, to teach science and physical education and coach football and track. He moved on the next year to Dowagiac High School, spending eight of the next nine years there as a civics and history teacher and a football coach. A year after leaving Dowagiac to return to Hillsdale, he earned a master’s degree from Western Michigan University.

During McAvoy’s 20 years as Athletic Director, the Hillsdale football team won an NAIA national championship, programs in varsity sports for women were launched, and Hillsdale made the move from NAIA to NCAA Division II, and Hillsdale’s tradition of the true student athlete was continued and strengthened.

McAvoy was preceded in death by a daughter, Lynn, who passed away in November 2007. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Dolores, their children Daniel, James, Patrick, and Michael, and four grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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