Mississippi State community mourns death of head football coach Mike Leach
Published 8:15 am Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Mississippi State University press release
Mississippi State University Head Football Coach Michael Charles “Mike” Leach passed away last night (Monday, Dec. 12) at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, following complications from a heart condition. He was 61.
In a statement, the Leach family said: “Mike was a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather. He was able to participate in organ donation at UMMC as a final act of charity. We are supported and uplifted by the outpouring of love and prayers from family, friends, Mississippi State University, the hospital staff, and football fans around the world. Thank you for sharing in the joy of our beloved husband and father’s life.”
Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum said: “Coach Mike Leach cast a tremendous shadow not just over Mississippi State University, but over the entire college football landscape. His innovative “Air Raid” offense changed the game. Mike’s keen intellect and unvarnished candor made him one of the nation’s true coaching legends. His passing brings great sadness to our university, to the Southeastern Conference, and to all who loved college football. I will miss Mike’s profound curiosity, his honesty, and his wide-open approach to pursuing excellence in all things.
“Mike’s death also underscores the fragility and uncertainty of our lives. Three weeks ago, Mike and I were together in the locker room celebrating a hard-fought victory in Oxford. Mike Leach truly embraced life and lived in such a manner as to leave no regrets. That’s a worthy legacy. May God bless the Leach family during these days and hours. The prayers of the Bulldog family go with them,” Keenum said.
MSU Interim Athletics Director Bracky Brett said: “We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach. College football lost one of its most beloved figures today, but his legacy will last forever. Mike’s energetic personality, influential presence and extraordinary leadership touched millions of athletes, students, coaches, fans, family and friends for decades.
“Mike was an innovator, pioneer and visionary. He was a college football icon, a coaching legend but an even better person,” said Brett. “We are all better for having known Mike Leach. The thoughts and prayers of Mississippi State University and the entire Bulldog family are with his wife Sharon, his children and the entire Leach family.”
Leach, who was named Mississippi State’s 34th head football coach on January 9, 2020, was finishing his third season in Starkville and 21st as a head coach. Forever a college football icon, he leaves an incredible legacy as a husband, father, friend and leader of young men.
The oldest of six siblings, Leach and his wife Sharon shared four children: Janeen, Kimberly, Cody and Kiersten.
Born in Susanville, California to Frank and Sandra Leach, Mike was raised in Cody, Wyoming. After graduating with honors from BYU in 1983 where he played rugby, Leach earned a master’s degree from the U.S. Sports Academy and his Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University, where he graduated in the top one-third of his class.
For nearly four decades, Leach had an unmatched impact on the game of football including thousands of student-athletes, coaches and staff. He was a two-time national coach of the year, three-time Power 5 conference coach of the year and the mastermind behind the NCAA record-setting “Air Raid” offense.