Hayden Fry, who created the Iowa football program for two unforgettable decades, died Tuesday at the age of 90. His family wrote in a statement that his death came after an extended period of cancer.
Fry is best remembered for his 143 workouts in more than 20 seasons at the Hawkeyes, leading three Big 10 championships and many top-20 finishes. It was named the Sporting News Coach of the Year in 1981 to transform a team of four wins into a program associated with the Rose Bowl.
In 2003, the college football football college also took over the management of SMU and North Texas.
“Iowa Athletics has lost an image, a man who has set the bar for every Hawkeye program and every member of our sports department,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta wrote in a statement. “Hayden was respected by all who knew him, as his passing creates a gap for everyone who played, coached and supported his successful tenure as a football coach.”
Part of Fry’s legacy comes from his work as a mentor to players and colleagues. Coaches Bill Snyder, Barry Alvarez, and Kirk Ferentz evolved into fitness centers for Fry’s staff in Iowa. Ferentz took over Iowa when Fry left after the 1998 season.
“Even before the Hawkeyes started winning on the pitch, Fry was beloved by his fans and believed by his players,” Ferentz said in a statement. “He had a charismatic style and a leadership style that created a championship and a winning schedule that continues today.”