MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Bill Stewart, West Virginia University’s head football coach from 2008-2010, died from an apparent heart attack during a golf outing at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, W.Va., earlier today.
"Mountaineer nation is truly saddened today to learn of the untimely passing of Coach Bill Stewart," said WVU President Jim Clements. "Our hearts go out to the Stewart family and Bill's many friends. He was a compassionate, energetic, and kind person. He loved his family dearly and was extremely community-oriented and very giving of his time. He will be greatly missed."
After guiding West Virginia to a remarkable 48-28 victory against Oklahoma, arguably one of the most memorable wins in school history in the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., Stewart was named West Virginia University’s 32nd head football coach on January 3, 2008 - a day after that impressive triumph.
He followed up the Oklahoma victory with three consecutive nine-win seasons, including trips to the Meineke Car Care, Gator and Champs Sports bowls. Stewart’s nine victories in 2008 represented the most ever by a first-year Mountaineer coach, and his 28-12 career mark included a .700 winning percentage that ranks fifth among all WVU grid coaches.
Stewart coached quarterback Pat White, considered one of the greatest players in school history; 14 of his West Virginia players were drafted by NFL teams and he led two Mountaineer squads to Top 25 finishes in 2008 and 2009.
Stewart resigned his head coaching post last June.
Many of his former players have already commented on his passing on Twitter.
“Take care of ole #BillStewart up there lord! #LeaveNoDoubt,” wrote White.
“Damn man i get out of practice till (sic) this horrible news. My heart just dropped foreal damn im speechless. RIP Coach Stew,” wrote Bruce Irvin.
“Broken and I don't know when these tears will stop, but I'm gonna miss that man,” Indianapolis Colts kicker Pat McAfee tweeted.
“Damn such a great man a true gentleman in every sense,” wrote Steve Slaton, now with the Miami Dolphins. “I'm honored to have had him as a coach in my career prayers are with his family. True mountaineer coach stew was scouts honor.”
Added former linebacker J.T. Thomas, “Hearts are heavy today throughout #MountaineerNation with news of the passing of Coach Stew, he was a great leader of young men. #WVU.”
The New Martinsville, W.Va., native was no stranger to Morgantown, the state of West Virginia or to the college football world as his coaching experiences were vast and varied.
Prior to being named head coach at WVU, Stewart spent eight years on the West Virginia staff under WVU coaches Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez, working with the Mountaineer tight ends, and serving as associate head coach in 2007 after spending the prior seven seasons coaching the quarterbacks. He also had the role of special teams coordinator under Rodriguez.
His lengthy coaching resumé began at Fairmont State, where he was a student assistant coach for a season, before becoming an assistant coach at Sistersville (W.Va.) High School in 1975. In 1977, he moved to Salem College, where he was assistant football and head track coach for two seasons. In 1979, he moved to the University of North Carolina (1980); he was later an assistant at Marshall (1980), William & Mary (1981-83), Navy (1984), North Carolina (1985-87), Arizona State (1988-89) and Air Force (1990-93).
In 1994, Stewart became head football coach at VMI, where he was 8-25 over three seasons there. His 1995 team was the highest scoring (24.5 ppg.) squad in VMI history, and Keydet running back Thomas Haskins set a I-AA rushing record with 5,349 yards.
Stewart came to WVU in January 2000, from the Canadian Football League, where he served as offensive coordinator of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1999, tutoring two all-conference receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher. As offensive line coach for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 1998, Stewart’s line blocked for Mike Pringle, the first 2,000-yard rusher in CFL history.
Stewart was a 1975 education graduate from Fairmont State where he was a three-year letterman and team captain for the WVIAC champions in 1974. He later earned his master’s degree in health and physical education from WVU in 1977.
Stewart, 59, is survived by his wife Karen, also a native of New Martinsville, and a son, Blaine.