Ex-SMU AD Copeland passes away

June, 5, 2010
6/05/10
5:00
PM CT
Former SMU athletic director Jim Copeland died Friday night from cancer. He was 65 and died at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Copeland, who played football and was later athletic director at Virginia, becamse the SMU AD after serving in that post at his alma mater for eight years. Copeland ran athletics on the Hilltop from Dec. 1994 through May 2006. It was the second-longest tenure for an AD in SMU history.

Copeland was a big part of getting SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium built. He also added three varsity sports -- volleyball, equestrian and rowing -- during his tenure. Copeland's fundraising efforts netted $81 million in donations to the athletic department while he was there.

"I greatly enjoyed working with Jim Copeland as a professional and as a friend," SMU president Gerald Turner said in a statement. "He played a key role in advancing our athletics program, leading transitions in conference membership, and planning and opening new facilities, including Ford Stadium and the Loyd All-Sports Center, that have been critical in bringing us where we are today. He will be greatly missed, and I know the University community joins me in sending thoughts and prayers to his family."

Copeland was a three-year starter for Virginia in the mid 1960s and was taken in the 10th round by the Cleveland Browns in the 1967 NFL draft. He played for Cleveland for eight seasons, appearing in two NFL championship games.
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.
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