ATHENS, Ga, – Vince Dooley, a 1994 College Football Hall of Fame inductee and the legendary coach at Georgia from 1964-1988, passed away Oct. 28, He was 90.
Vince Dooley’s fame spreads across two states. Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, he attended Auburn University; was captain of the football team; and was an Auburn assistant coach for eight years.
In December 1963, at age 32, Dooley moved to the University of Georgia. There, he was sometimes head football coach, sometimes director of athletics, sometimes both. He performed at the top level everywhere. No wonder, then, that he has been elected to both the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
The winningest football coach in Georgia history, Coach Dooley amassed a 201-77-10 record during his 25 seasons leading the Bulldog program. His teams appeared in 20 bowls, claimed six SEC titles and the 1980 national championship. He was named NCAA National Coach of the Year by every major poll in 1980, and he was named SEC Coach of the Year seven times and NCAA District Coach of the Year on six occasions.
From 1980-83, his Georgia teams had a four-year streak with a record of 43-4-1. In 1979, he added director of athletics to his responsibilities, continuing in that position after finishing his coaching career in 1988. He coached six College Football Hall of Fame inductees, a Heisman Trophy winner, a Maxwell Award Winner, an Outland Award Winner, and 40 First Team All-Americans.
The Dooley record shows a strong regard for academics. Among his football players, seven were recognized as NFF National Scholar-Athletes; 10 claimed Academic All-America laurels; 11 won NCAA post-graduate scholarships; and 77 earned Academic All-SEC recognition. In recognition of his commitment to academics, a group of his supporters and former University of Georgia players recently endowed a prestigious NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award in his name.
During his 25 years (1979-2004) as athletics director, he built a program that included 18 teams in men’s and women’s sports, and the Georgia teams won 23 national championships (10 in his final six years), including an unprecedented four during the 1998-99 year (gymnastics, women’s swimming & diving, men’s tennis, and men’s golf). Also during his tenure, Georgia athletic teams won 78 SEC team championships and numerous individual national titles in both men’s and women’s sports.
Dooley was instrumental in fostering the pledge which has resulted in $2 million being contributed by the Athletic Association to the University in 1985 — the principal being used for non-athletic scholarships and the interest used in the recruitment of top students and other non-athletic programs. These funds also provided private matching money which made possible the construction of the chemistry building expansion and the Performing and Visual Arts Center. And as part of the University’s Third Century Campaign, he also initiated the Vincent J. Dooley Library Endowment Fund which was created with Coach Dooley’s personal gift of $100,000 to the University library. Under his leadership, the Fund raised over $2.3 million and had a fund balance of almost $4 million in 2005 — the fifth largest out of the more than 1,000 endowments held by the UGA Foundation.
He received numerous national honors, including the John Wooden Citizen Cup Award for his positive influence on the lives of others, the Bear Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in coaching both on and off the field during his career, and the Duffy Daugherty Memorial Award for his contributions to amateur football. He was also the recipient of numerous awards for his service as director of athletics, including in 2004 both the prestigious NFF John L. Toner Award and the James J. Corbett Memorial Award presented annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
In 2001, he was named recipient of the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award from American Football Coaches Association presented for lifetime contributions to the sport of football. In 2004, he was inducted into the UGA Circle of Honor and on Jan. 1, 2019, he was inducted into the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame. His contributions to the university were recognized in 2008 with the dedication of the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex. A statue and garden commemorate his accomplishments along with the naming of all of the south campus athletic facilities in his honor. In 2019, Georgia named the Sanford Stadium field in his honor—Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.
His contributions to coaching and athletics administration are significantly defined by his place as the only person ever to hold the presidency of both the American Football Coaches Association and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He served on the National Football Foundation Honors Court from 1997 to 2002 as part of the elite group who annually selects the College Football Hall of Fame inductees.
His community service and charity work was extensive and included work with the Heart Fund, Multiple Sclerosis, Juvenile Diabetes, Boy Scouts, and the homeless, and he was a former member of the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army. He served 28 years as the long-standing chairman of the Georgia Easter Seals Society and in 1987 was named National Volunteer of the Year for his service. He served six years on the Advisory Committee to the Atlanta Olympic Organizing Committee and was in Tokyo with his former player, ACOG president Billy Payne, when Atlanta won the bid to host the 1996 Games. Dooley was selected as a torch bearer in the 1996 Summer Olympics torch relay, receiving the flame from Payne in Sanford Stadium.
He maintained his academic and continuing education interests by auditing classes at the University in such disciplines as history, political science, art history, and horticulture. A prolific writer, he authored several books, including two editions of Dooley’s Dawgs (with Loran Smith); My 40 Years at Georgia (with Tony Barnhart); three editions of Dooley’s Playbook: The 34 Most Memorable Plays in Georgia Football History, including the 2021 National Championship edition; Dooley’s Garden: A Horticultural Journey of a Football Coach; History and Reminiscences of the University of Georgia; and The Legion’s Fighting Bulldog: The Civil War Correspondence of William Gaston Delony, Lieutenant Colonel of Cobb’s Georgia Legion Cavalry, and Rosa Delony, 1853-1863.
Dooley was born into an athletic family in the Alabama coastal city of Mobile, Sept. 4, 1932. His younger brother Bill, former head football coach at North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest, was an All-SEC guard at Mississippi State in 1954. After graduating from McGill High in Mobile, Dooley accepted a football scholarship to Auburn, where he was an all-star football and basketball player. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management (1954) and Masters in History (1963). After serving in the Marines as an officer for two years and eight years in the Reserves, he took a job as an assistant coach at Auburn.
University of Georgia Athletics Contributed to this article.