Mike McGee, former Duke football star and coach, dies at 80

Mike McGee, a decorated Duke football player who later coached the Blue Devils and East Carolina, died on Friday at his home in Montrose, Colo., Duke announced in a press release.

He was 80.

Raised in Elizabeth City, McGee won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top interior lineman in 1959 with Duke. That same year, he was named ACC player of the year.

In 1960, he won the McKevlin Award as the ACC’s Male Athlete of the Year.

McGee was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990 as well as the Duke Sports Hall of Fame (1983) and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame (1991).

McGee was East Carolina’s head coach in 1970 before coaching the Blue Devils from 1971-78.

“Coach McGee was a man we could all admire,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said in a statement. “Obviously, he played the game at the highest level and had success as both a coach and administrator, but his integrity, kindness and leadership qualities commanded respect from everyone who knew him. Our deepest condolences are extended to his family and loved ones.”

McGee was twice named all-ACC as a player, including a first-team selection in 1959. He was an honorable mention all-American in 1958 and a first-team all-American in 1959.

The ACC named McGee to its silver anniversary and its 50th anniversary all-conference teams.

After his Duke playing career, McGee was selected by the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals. He started 36 games in his three-season career with St. Louis.

Following his playing career, McGee was an assistant coach at Duke (1963-65), Wisconsin (1966) and Minnesota (1967-69).

McGee later moved into athletic administration, working as athletics director at Cincinnati (1980-84), Southern California (1984-93) and South Carolina (1993-2005).

While at South Carolina, he hired baseball coach Ray Tanner away from N.C. State. Tanner won College World Series championships with the Gamecocks in 2010 and 2011 and is currently South Carolina’s athletics director.

“I owe so much to Dr. McGee for trusting me to lead his baseball program when he hired me in the summer of 1996,” Tanner said, according to The State. “I learned so much from him about athletics, administration and life, in general. He’s not only a legendary coach and administrator but a Hall of Fame person as well.”

An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.