BATON ROUGE, LA (WACH) - Former South Carolina athletics director and football coach Paul Dietzel passed away early Tuesday at the age of 89.
Dietzel served as athletics director from 1966-1975, and football coach from 1966-1974. He compiled a 42-53-1 record in nine seasons and is the only coach in program history to win a conference title by capturing the 1969 ACC championship.
"Coach Dietzel was a heck of a guy and coach. One of the best to coach college football," said Gamecock head coach Steve Spurrier on Tuesday. "He had a wonderful life and we're thinking about him."
Dietzel was inducted into the Carolina Hall of Fame in 2012 and is widely recognized as someone who changed the culture of South Carolina's athletics program by blazing a trail for future achievements. Dietzel put in place an athletics facilities upgrade plan including the athetic dorm and enlarging the football stadium.
Dietzel also mandated the recruitment of black athletes in all sports at the university and signed the first black athlete to a football scholarship in 1970.
He also hired coach Bobby Richardson which helped South Carolina become a national player in college baseball.
The legendary coach also served as LSUs football coach from 1955-1961 and later returned to Baton Rouge in 1978 as athletics director, a role in which he served until 1982. Dietzel was the architect of a national championship team at LSU, anchored by a defensive unit known as the Chinese Bandits that helped the team win the 1958 national title.
"Coach Dietzel was a man of great honor and integrity. He was the perfect role model for young people and I will always cherish the moments that I was able to spend with him," said LSU vice-chancellor and athletics director Joe Alleva on Tuesday. "He was way ahead of his time as a football coach. His 1958 national championship set LSU on a path of being what it is today. We will be forever grateful for Coach Dietzel and what he meant to this university."
Dietzel left LSU to become head coach at Army, where he was the first non-Army graduate to hold that position, then moved to South Carolina after Marvin Bass resigned in 1966.
Following his days at USC, Dietzel was athletics director at Indiana University and LSU as well as commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Funeral services for Dietzel are set for Friday morning in Baton Rouge.