Vince Dooley, legendary Georgia football coach and athletic director, passes away at 90

Vince Dooley-Georgia football-obituary
Vince Dooley gets a victory ride early in his career, before Sanford Stadium was double-decked. (University of Georgia)
Walker Montgomery

Vince Dooley, the winningest Georgia football coach in program history, passed away at the age of 90. The University of Georgia announced Dooley’s passing in an official statement.

Dooley served as the football coach from 1964 through the 1988 season, racking up a 201-77-10 record in his time at Georgia. The Bulldogs won the SEC six times under Dooley and were national champions in the 1980 season. He also served as the school’s athletic director from 1979 through 2004, hiring many of Georgia’s most successful coaches in that span.

“I got off the elevator the other night and I thought it was a sign when the elevator opened on the 15th floor and Vince Dooley was sitting on a bench locked out of his room,” Smart said. “I thought, God put him there for me to see him the night before his game, and he was waiting on his key to come up to his room. I just knew that meant something.”

Related: Kirby Smart, Vince Dooley and the importance of understanding Georgia football history

In Dooley’s 25 years of coaching at Georgia, the Bulldogs only had a losing record just once. At the time of his retirement, only Alabama’s Bear Bryant had more wins among SEC coaches.

Dooley was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. He is also a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame.

Georgia renamed the field at Sanford Stadium after Dooley in 2019, honoring the legendary Georgia sports figure.

“It was a very moving experience, a moving day,” Dooley said at the time of the ceremony. “I’m thankful for all of the people that were part of making it happen, and all the people that share in this, which is the greatest thrill of all.”

Related: Georgia’s Vince Dooley ‘completely surprised’ to learn of field-naming honor at Sanford Stadium

By the time Dooley stepped away from coaching following the 1988 season, he had already been hard at work as the program’s athletic director. Many of Georgia’s best coaches were hired by Dooley such as gymnastics coach Suzanne Yoculan, swimming and diving’s Jack Bauerle, Manny Diaz of men’s tennis, Jeff Wallace in women’s tennis and Chris Haack in men’s golf. All have won multiple national championships for the University of Georgia.

Dooley became well known in his later years for his gardening, a passion of his away from athletics. He is survived by his wife, Barbara and his children Daniel, Deanna, Denise and Derek Dooley, along with 11 grandchildren.

Details on a service/memorial have not yet been announced at this time.

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