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Former Weber State, Dixie coach Sark Arslanian dies at 92

Sark Arslanian, who coached football at both Dixie College and Weber State, died Sunday night at his home in St. George, according to both schools.

"The entire Dixie State athletics family is very saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague Sark," Dixie State athletic director Jason Boothe said in a news release. "Without Sark's leadership and passion for Dixie, our athletic teams would not be where they are today. He was not only a great coach and leader, but a caring man as well. He will be missed."

Arslanian, 92, served as Dixie's athletic director and head coach of football, track and baseball beginning in 1955 before leaving to take over as Weber State's head football coach in 1965. Following eight years with the Wildcats, Arslanian was the head coach at Colorado State for nine years before becoming a scout for the CFL and USFL, as well as coaching pro teams in Italy and Japan.

He won 158 games as a college football coach in 26 years at Dixie, Weber and Colorado State.

Arslanian, who was born on Feb. 4, 1924, in Fresno, California, is enshrined in the athletic hall of fame at both Weber State and Dixie State and is also a member of the Pop Warner National Hall of Fame, Utah Sports Hall of Fame and the All-American Football Foundation honor roll.

“Weber State University mourns the passing of coach Arslanian and offers our condolences to the entire family,” Weber State athletic director Jerry Bovee said in a news release. “Sark was truly a coaching legend and was an incredibly important part of building Weber State into prominence. His 'Sark’s Boys' players will continue his legacy at Weber State. He was a great coach and leader and will always be an important part of Wildcat football.”

Arslanian is Weber State's career leader in winning percentage at .641, with a 50-26-2 overall record. In 1969, he earned national coach of the year honors from Armenian Weekly and never had a losing season with the Wildcats.

The former coach led Weber State to Big Sky titles in 1965 and 1968, the only coach in school history to win two Big Sky titles. He also led the team to several national rankings, rising as high as No. 5 in 1965 and No. 3 in 1967.

As head coach at Colorado State, Arslanian had an overall record of 45-47-4, including a 9-2-1 season in 1977 when the Rams nearly won the Western Athletic Conference title. That year, Colorado State received votes in the AP Top 25 poll. He had four winning seasons with the Rams.

“I am saddened, but I am also reminded of coach’s passion for football, life, friends and family,” Colorado State director of football operations Tom Ehlers said in a news release. Ehlers was recruited by Arslanian and played for the coach for two seasons. “He was always so kind to me, and so happy to talk about all the players and games from his time here. He changed my life by bringing me to Colorado State in 1980, and he changed the lives of many others throughout the years. He was such a great coach and an even better person.”

On Sept. 14, 2013, the field at Dixie State's Legend Solar Stadium, formerly known as Hansen Field, was renamed Sark Arslanian Field in his honor. That coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Dixie College football team that went undefeated, the lone unbeaten and untied team in the program's history. That year, the team finished the season ranked in the top six junior colleges nationally.

Arslanian graduated from Salt Lake City's Granite High School in 1941 and enlisted in the Naval Air Corps, serving as an officer until the end of World War II. He then attended Dixie College, where he played football and basketball and ran track, as well as serving as class president.

Arslanian graduated from Dixie in 1949 and also later earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah and a master's at Utah State.

After college, Arslanian began his coaching career at Central Junior High in Salt Lake City, then at Union High School in Roosevelt before moving on to Dixie College. According to Dixie, "his recruiting efforts nearly doubled the size of the college's student body and served as a stabilizing factor for the institution."

Following his retirement, Arslanian returned to coaching high school football in Colorado and Idaho, as well as at Pine View High School in St. George.

Arslanian was preceded in death by his wife Verlyn, and the couple had six children. Sons Dave and Paul both coached at Weber State, with Dave serving as the Wildcats' head coach from 1989-97.