Former Arizona assistant coach Calvin Magee, one of the most respected and well-liked figures in college football, died Friday at age 59.

Magee, who coached at Arizona from 2012-17 under Rich Rodriguez, suffered a heart attack earlier this week. He had been serving as Rodriguez’s offensive coordinator at Jacksonville State since December.

“Our hearts are broken with the loss of our beloved friend Calvin Magee,” Rodriguez said in a statement released by JSU. “Calvin was a great husband, great father and grandfather, great coach, great friend and great man. He impacted my life and the lives of so many others in such a positive way.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family — wife Rose, daughters Jade and Jasmine, son Bryson, his grandchildren, and all his friends and relatives. Our world is less, but heaven got better. I miss him dearly already. I love you, my brother.”


Calvin Magee

Magee held the titles of associate head coach, co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach while at Arizona. But running backs were his forte, and he coached several standouts. They included 2013 All-American Ka’Deem Carey, 2014 freshman star Nick Wilson and future pro J.J. Taylor.

“I had the honor and privilege to be friends and work with Calvin Magee for 13 years,” tweeted Rod Smith, Arizona’s QB coach and co-OC from 2012-17. “I am heartbroken and still in disbelief. You made an impact on all that you touched, and my family has been blessed to have you in our lives. Rest easy, C-Mac. Love ya man.”

Magee grew up in New Orleans and became an All-America tight end at Southern University. He played four years in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1985-88), catching 114 passes for 1,379 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Magee began his coaching career at Tampa Catholic High School. His first college job came at South Florida, where he also earned a degree. Magee first worked under Rodriguez at West Virginia (2001-07). Magee then followed Rodriguez to Michigan (2008-10) and Arizona before reuniting with him at Jacksonville State following stints at New Mexico, Ole Miss and Duke.

“Thank you, Coach Magee, for believing in me at such a young age, while I was still learning myself,” former UA quarterback Khalil Tate tweeted. “I’ll never forget those conversations we had off the field, yourself, (Smith) and I.

“You will be missed, but never forgotten. Praying for your family.”

Magee was named the AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2007 after helping West Virginia post a second consecutive 11-2 season. Arizona went to five bowl games in six seasons with Rodriguez, Magee and Smith directing the offense. The Wildcats won the Pac-12 South in 2014.

“This one hurts,” former UA tight end Bryce Wolma tweeted. “Coach Magee was a true leader and mentor on and off the field for me. Send love and support to the Magee family.”

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Contact sports reporter Michael Lev at 573-4148 or On Twitter @michaeljlev

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