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Terry Hoeppner, 59; Indiana football coach was a `second father, a teacher and a friend'

June 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

Indiana University football coach Terry Hoeppner died Tuesday of complications from a brain tumor. He was 59.

Hoeppner, who underwent two brain surgeries in the last 18 months, spent the final four months on medical leave. He died at Bloomington Hospital with his family at his side, school spokesman J.D. Campbell said.

Hoeppner, who amassed a 9-14 record in two seasons at Indiana, had taken three medical leaves since December 2005. He hadn't been seen publicly since late February, and players said they were unaware of the severity of Hoeppner's illness until team meetings Tuesday. Late last week, the school said assistant Bill Lynch would replace him as coach for the 2007 season.

"I think if you measure the man strictly by wins and losses, I think you're underselling a lot of attributes," Indiana Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said Tuesday. "He has really touched a lot of people, inspired a lot of people, and his memory will live on in these players and other people for a long time."

After being hired as head coach in December 2004, Hoeppner nicknamed the Hoosiers' home field "The Rock" and had a giant limestone boulder added to Memorial Stadium to reinforce the message. The exuberant coach also added a game day ritual called "The Walk," in which fans and players parade to the stadium through a parking lot full of tailgaters.

A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Hoeppner grew up a Hoosiers fan, earned a bachelor's degree in physical education at Franklin College and a master's in education at Butler University in Indianapolis, and coached at the high school level in his home state.

Before taking over at Indiana, Hoeppner had been head coach at Miami of Ohio, where he compiled a 48-25 record in six seasons and, with star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, took the team to consecutive bowl games in 2003 and 2004. Hoeppner was hired at Miami in 1986 as a linebackers coach and spent 19 years at the school overall.

"He has been a second father, a teacher and a friend," Roethlisberger, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL, said in a statement. "He believed in me, and I owe everything to him for where I am in life."

Hoeppner is survived by his wife, Jane; children Amy, Allison and Drew; and four grandchildren. Services are pending.

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