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Former BYU basketball coach Tony Ingle remembered as ‘one of life’s great gems’

According to his son, Izzy, basketball coach at Timpanogos High, Ingle contracted COVID-19 in December. Izzy announced the news of his father’s passing on Twitter 

Gary McKellar, Deseret News
FILE: Tony Ingle takes in a BYU basketball game against Wyoming on Jan. 15, 1998. Ingle, who served as an assistant coach at BYU from 1989-1996 and was the interim head coach for the Cougars in 1996-97, died Monday.
Gary McKellar, Deseret News

Known for his resiliency, kindness, sense of humor and knowledge of the game, former BYU basketball coach Tony Ingle, 68, died Monday.

According to his son, Izzy, basketball coach at Timpanogos High, Ingle contracted COVID-19 in December 2020. Izzy announced the news of his father’s passing on Twitter.

“It’s with a shattered heart I post this. My dad, Coach Tony Ingle passed away tonight. I’m so blessed to have had such an amazing father & example throughout my life!! I love you dad!! I already miss you!! Thanks to everyone who has prayed for our family during this tough time.”

Izzy said last week that his father had been sedated and placed on a ventilator.

Tony Ingle served as an assistant coach at BYU from 1989-1996, and was the interim head coach for the Cougars in 1996-97. Ingle was promoted after Roger Reid was fired and he inherited a team with a 1-6 record. BYU finished 0-19 under Ingle, as he carried the burden of a 1-25 mark on his resume.

When the school hired Steve Cleveland in March 1997, Ingle was not retained. At the time, Ingle insisted that he wanted to be a head coach again someday.

“I was always successful when I was in charge,” he said in 1997. “I was an assistant for 712 years (at BYU). I stayed in the background. I was loyal. No one knew me. Then all of a sudden, people are saying, ‘Who is this guy, I sort of like him.’ I was climbing the ladder till I came here. I came here so I could become a Division I coach. Then I found out no assistant has ever left BYU to become a Division I coach.”

After being out of coaching for three years, spending two of those years as a scout for the Utah Jazz, Ingle was hired by Kennesaw State in 2000.

In 2004, Ingle led Kennesaw State to the NCAA Division II championship. Then in 2015, Ingle guided Dalton State to an NAIA Division I national championship. He also earned Division II and NAIA national coach of the year honors, respectively, after those seasons.

FILE: Former BYU basketball coach Tony Ingle is shown here coaching his Dalton State College basketball team. He led the school to the NAIA Division national championship in 2015. Ingle passed away Monday.
Courtesy Dalton State College

Ingle spent 11 seasons at Kennesaw State and five at Dalton State. He finished his career with a 140-99 record. Ingle retired from coaching in August 2018.

“You’re branded a loser,” Ingle said in 2017 about his career after BYU. “It’s a tough thing to carry with you. I’d like to think I’ve shown I can win.”

Tributes to Ingle poured in on social media not long after news of his death.

“We mourn the passing of Coach Tony Ingle. Among his sayings was ‘Enthusiasm has no age,’ and his optimistic and happy nature was a true constant,” wrote Voice of the Cougars, Greg Wrubell. “Tony’s oft-shared advice resonates deeply tonight: ‘Life is short, serious and frail; learn from it, laugh at it and live it well.’”

“I was crushed to hear that Coach Ingle passed last night,” wrote former BYU basketball player Kevin Nixon. “Forever grateful that he took this Iowa kid under his arm at BYU and helped me through some tough times. I loved him and already miss him. Much love to his family. Thank you for sharing him with us!”

“I’m devastated to hear of the passing of Tony Ingle. Truly one of the finest men I’ve ever known,” wrote former BYU player and BYU radio analyst Mark Durrant. “Certainly the most unique. I’ve never laughed harder than with Coach. He taught me basketball, but so much more. Simply a glorious man. My love and prayers to his wonderful family.”

“One of life’s great gems. I had the honor to call his 2004 Div II Basketball Championship at Kennesaw St. on CBS,” wrote Craig Bolerjack, Utah Jazz play-by-play announcer. “What a joyful moment it was for him. Smiles and tears. One of his great lines “It’s a three”....God Bless. Prayers to the Ingle Family.”

“I am so grateful that I knew Tony Ingle, and he blessed my life. My prayers are with his family at this time,” said former BYU assistant Tim LaComb. “He was a warrior in life. I am grateful for all I learned from him. Rest peacefully Coach.”

Ingle was born June 11, 1952, and grew up in Georgia, and starred at North Whitfield High. As a coach, Ingle led Gordon State College to the 1988 NJCAA Region XVII championship game. He followed that up by taking the head coaching job at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he spent one season. A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ingle arrived at BYU in 1989 when Reid hired him to join his staff.

Ingle wrote his autobiography in 2009, “I Don’t Mind Hitting the Bottom, I Just Hate Dragging.”

Ingle is survived by his wife, Jeanne, five children and five grandchildren.