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Former Cougar Coach Friel Dies at 97

December 14, 1995|Associated Press

PULLMAN, Wash. — Jack Friel, who coached Washington State from 1928-58 and is the school's winningest basketball coach, has died at age 97.

He had pneumonia and died Tuesday at Pullman Memorial Hospital.

Friel, who had a record of 495-377, took Washington State to its only NCAA title game in 1941. The Cougars lost to Wisconsin, 39-34.

Friel enrolled at Washington State in 1916 and became captain of the basketball team. After retiring as basketball coach, Friel coached the golf team. He later became the first commissioner of the Big Sky Conference.

In 1977, the basketball facilities at the school's Beasley Coliseum were named for him.

"He really loved to teach, not just basketball, but baseball and golf," said Bob Smawley, of the school's alumni relations department and a longtime friend.

"Other teams may have had better material, but he was such a great teacher, and such a great strategist, his coaching made his teams competitive."

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