BOULDER, Colo. — As he sat in the locker room preparing for Friday night’s game in the Coors Events Center, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak acknowledged that it was a tough day to go to work. He was hurting after hearing that Jon M. Huntsman Sr. had passed away earlier in the day at the age of 80.
Krystkowiak said that Huntsman was part of the family.
“It’s pretty personal relationship we had with my family — wife and kids — and his wife. You just come across certain people in a lifetime that just kind of stand above everybody else,” Krystkowiak said. “For seven years, he’s just been there the whole time.”
Krystkowiak added that Huntsman performed “countless acts of kindness for other people” that didn’t draw attention to himself.
“He was really one of the kindest, loving people that I’ve come across in 53 years,” Krystkowiak said. “There’s going to be a big void without him and I’m going to challenge myself and the thousands of people, if not more, that knew him and how he operated to carry him forward with those kind of acts and what would Jon do.
“Rather than us thinking about what we’re going to miss, I think we all need to be inspired by what he did and try in a little way — each of us — to try to replicate that,” he continued.
While offering his condolences, Krystkowiak expressed gratitude for everything Huntsman and his family have done.
“He’s going to be missed,” said Krystkowiak, who noted the remainder of the basketball season and perhaps many others will be dedicated to Huntsman. He would also like to see Huntsman’s courtside seat at the game remain unoccupied for a while.
“It’s something where he may be gone but how he’s touched us and what he’s done for the program and so many things just keeps going on and on,” Krystkowiak said. “So that’s not going to be gone.”
The university renamed the Special Events Center in Huntsman’s honor in 1987. An adjacent structure, the $36 million Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Basketball Facility, opened in 2015.
Utah athletics director Chris Hill released a statement on the death of Huntsman.
“I am deeply saddened by Jon Huntsman’s passing and I speak on behalf of our entire Utah athletics department when I say that our hearts and prayers are with the Huntsman family,” Hill said. “Jon has been an incredible friend and contributor to the university and community at large for many years. His philanthropy seemed to know no bounds. I have personally known Jon for more than 40 years and consider him a close friend. I will miss him greatly. I am overwhelmed by his passing and this is a sad day for all of us — and there are many — whose lives he touched. He was a good man who made the world a better place.”
Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham expressed his thoughts in a Twitter post: “We are all deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jon Huntsman Sr. He was instrumental to the growth of the University of Utah and his kindness and generosity is appreciated. He will be greatly missed.”