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UT Mourns Passing of Spartan Legend Sam Bailey

Published: September 22, 2010
The University of Tampa is saddened by the death of former athletic director and football, baseball and basketball coach Sam Bailey. The man who spent more than 60 years as an employee and Spartan supporter died at the age of 86.

Born and raised on Sanibel Island, Bailey attended Fort Myers High School where he earned 12 varsity letters. After a short stay at Hampden-Sydney College, he enrolled at the University of Georgia where he continued to distinguish himself in athletics. At Georgia, he lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track.

Upon graduation in 1946, he began a four-year career in the professional ranks as a player and coach with the Boston Yanks, Richmond Rebels and Erie (Pa.) football teams.

In the spring of 1950, Bailey began his collegiate coaching career as the head basketball coach at The University of Tampa. He also served as the head line coach for the football team. In 1952, he became the head baseball coach, relinquishing his basketball duties in 1955.

He was named assistant athletic director at UT in 1957, and four years later he was appointed athletic business manager and public relations director in the athletic department. He was named athletic director in 1962 and became the school’s ninth head football coach in 1964.

During his tenure as a football coach, seven Spartans were named to the Little All-America team. He also coached one All-American and five all-state players in basketball. His baseball teams also produced 10 all-state players.

In December of 1967, Bailey assumed the sole duties of athletic director, leading the Spartans among the athletic powers in the South. In 1971 Bailey was named UT’s special assistant to the president for athletic affairs. In 1975 Bailey tried to raise money to save the football team from being removed against the then-President’s wishes and was subsequently removed.

“In spite of his departure, Sam always remained loyal to the University and to the student-athletes,” said Larry Marfise, UT’s athletic director. “He was a great mentor to those who came after him and was always willing to help to ensure that the athletic department stayed vibrant and successful. Sam supported the University in many ways and an endowment was started in his name to help future student-athletes.”

Bailey was inducted to the UT Athletics Hall of Fame in 1966 and is also the namesake of the Sam Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented at each Hall of Fame induction ceremony to the individual who has provided exceptional service to UT in the following areas: employment, financial support, voluntary service or as a lifetime fan of Spartan athletics. The baseball field at UT also carries Bailey’s name.

With a family history that dates back to the late 1800’s in Sanibel Island, Bailey also wrote a book, A Sanibel Son Looks Back. In the book, Bailey told the tale of what it was like to grow up on this tiny but magnificently beautiful island and takes readers on a journey back to the rugged early years of this now world-famous vacation get-away.

Bailey is survived by his wife Cookie and three daughters.