ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Former Navy assistant football coach Steve Belichick died Saturday night of heart failure at the age of 86.
Belichick has been a legendary figure around the Naval Academy for the past 50 years, including the 33 years (1956-89) he served as an assistant football coach and an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Education.
After Sunday's Patriots game against the New Orleans Saints, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick offered the following comments regarding his father's passing. "Personally, I coached this game with a heavy heart. My Dad passed away. I found out about it in the middle of last night. Obviously, he had a tremendous influence on my life personally and, particularly in the football aspect, it was great to be able to share the tremendous memories with him and some of our recent successes, as I did when I was a kid when he was successful as a coach of the Naval Academy and that program. Yesterday he did what he enjoyed doing. He went and watched Navy play, watched them win. Some of his former players were there. He had dinner and I spoke with him after the game. And like he normally does Saturday night, sitting around watching college football, and his heart just stopped beating. So I'm sure that's the way he would have wanted it to end. He went peacefully, which is unusual for him."
"The Naval Academy suffered a great loss today with the passing of Steve Belichick," said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. "He has been a part of the fabric of this institution for 50 years and has touched the lives of thousands of Midshipmen, staff, alumni and friends. We will miss his daily visits to Ricketts Hall where we got a chance to learn so much about the history and traditions of this institution through Steve. He never lost his love of the Academy and you could sense it every time you were with him. Today we've all lost a great friend and mentor."
"I remember on Thursday morning he came by and we had a cup of coffee, just like we did two or three times a week," said Naval Academy Head Football Coach Paul Johnson. "He had millions of stories ... stories about football and coaching and scouting and about life. He was a special person and it's a really sad day."
A native of Struthers, Ohio, Belichick was a 1941 graduate of Case Western Reserve where he played football and basketball. A three-year regular at fullback, Belichick led Case Western, a football power back then, to the 1941 Sun Bowl. He was named to the school's Hall of Fame in 1976.
After graduation, Belichick played one year for the Detroit Lions where he played alongside future Supreme Court Justice, Byron "Whizzer" White.
Belichick was drafted into the Navy after Pearl Harbor and became an armed guard officer with an amphibious task force in the Pacific. After the war, Belichick became the head football, basketball and track coach at Hiram College (1946-48) where he met his wife Jeannette
Belichick's career would take off in 1949 when his former coach at Case Western, Bill Edwards, asked him to join his staff at Vanderbilt. While at Vanderbilt, Belichick and Edwards became such good friends that Steve named his son, Bill, after him. In 1953, Belichick moved on to Chapel Hill where he was an assistant coach at UNC for three seasons before moving on to Annapolis in 1956.
While at Navy, Belichick was known for his meticulous advance scouting of upcoming opponents. He served under seven head coaches in Annapolis, was part of 17 Navy wins over Army, coached two Heisman Trophy winners (Joe Bellino in 1960 and Roger Staubach in 1963) and helped lead Navy to six bowl games, more than any other coach in school history. He also authored a book titled "Football Scouting Methods."
Steve Belichick is survived by his wife, Jeannette; his son, Bill, his daughter-in-law, Debby; his three grandchildren, Amanda, Stephen and Brian; his brother, John Bell; and numerous nieces and nephews.
VIEWING AND FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR STEVE BELICHICK
The Belichick family will receive friends to honor the memory of Steve Belichick on Tuesday, November 22 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Taylor Funeral Home located at 147 Duke of Gloucester St. in Annapolis, Maryland.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, November 23 at the Chapel on the grounds of the Naval Academy beginning at 11:00 a.m. The burial will take place at the Naval Academy Cemetery. A reception will follow burial services at the Officers Club across the street from the Navy Chapel.
Please note that vehicular access to Academy grounds is very limited. Parking and shuttle transportation is available at the Navy Stadium, a few blocks from the Navy Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, the Belichick family has asked that donations be made in Steve Belichick's memory to the Steve Belichick Scholarship Fund, established to reward outstanding student-athletes at Steve Belichick's alma mater, Struthers High School in Struthers, Ohio. The grant will provide opportunities to college candidates in the same way that a scholarship enabled Steve Belichick to attend college at Western Reserve. Donations can be sent to the address listed below:
Steve Belichick Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 715
Foxborough, MA 02035