The Vaqueros lost a close game to Texas Southern on Saturday night, 77-75. The tougher loss came Sunday when UT Rio Grande Valley basketball coach Lew Hill passed away in his sleep, less than a day after leading his squad against the Tigers. The cause of death is unknown.
UT Rio Grande Basketball Coach Lew Hill Dies
Hill, 55, was in his fifth season as the UT Rio Grande basketball coach. In 2018-19, he led the Vaqueros to a 20-win season and had an overall record of 67-77. His heartbreaking and unexpected death has shocked the university, community, and all of college basketball.
UT Rio Grande President, Guy Bailey, said in a statement, “This is a tragic loss, not only for the UTRGV community but for the entire Rio Grande Valley community. Coach Hill was very involved in the community and always had a knack for making everyone he met feel special.”
Chasse Conque, UT Rio Grande Valley Vice President and Director of Athletics added, “Coach Hill was an incredible human being,” continuing, “He cared deeply about those around him, from his family, to his players, to his staff and really, everyone in the department and at UTRGV.”
The university staff, as well as the college basketball world, offers their most sincere condolences to the Hill family. He is survived by his wife, Renee, their son and daughter, Lewis Jr. and Elle, and his three other daughters, Sierra, Erica, and Asya.
This was Hill’s first head coaching position. He had a long prior career as an assistant at various programs. In 1989, he joined the staff at Wichita East High School, and from there was on staff at South Alabama, SE Missouri State, East Carolina, Texas A&M, UNLV, and Oklahoma. His impact from high school to power conference programs was vast, and many are mourning his death. Something that we’ve unfortunately become accustomed to doing as of late.
College Basketball Coaches We’ve Lost
The UT Rio Grande Valley basketball coach is the second active Division-I coach to pass away this season. Anthony Stewart, 50, coach at Tennessee-Martin also died in his sleep on Nov. 15, 2020. On Jan. 29, legendary Temple coach John Chaney, 89, passed away from an unspecified illness.
College basketball has experienced a tumultuous 2020 and 2021 thus far. Last year, the sport lost a slew of iconic coaches: John Thompson, Lute Olson, Lou Henson, Eddie Sutton, Billy Tubbs, Carl Tacy, and Boyd “Tiny” Grant.
The school has yet to decide on an interim head coach, but will so in the near future. Before Hill’s death, UT Rio Grande Valley was 8-4 and a program on the rise. Picked to finish third in the Western Athletic Conference, the Vaqueros were 16-6 over their last 22 games. The program is unsure of how they will proceed with their upcoming matches. They currently sit in second place of the WAC standings at 2-0 and were slated to play California Baptist on Feb. 12.
The university, the Rio Grande Valley community, and the college basketball world not only lost a great contributor to the game but also a great man. May Coach Hill rest in peace.
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