Butte coaching legend dies at 83

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Butte native Jim Sweeney, who coached Fresno State’s football team for 19 seasons and retired with a school-record 144 victories, has died. He was 83.

The school announced Sweeney’s death on Friday night. It provided no further details.

Sweeney, who was inducted into the Butte Sports Hall of Fame in 1987, also coached Montana State and Washington State before he was hired by Fresno State in 1976. He finished with 200 wins in 32 seasons as a head coach.

Sweeney was the head coach at Butte Central from 1952-54. He led the Maroons to the 1952 State title.

During Sweeney’s time with the Fresno State Bulldogs, they had 35 players selected in the NFL draft. Trent Dilfer and Henry Ellard were among his most prominent players.

Sweeney also spent time as an assistant coach with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Cardinals.

Fresno State athletic director Thomas Boeh calls Sweeney “a man of vision, toughness and character.”



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