June 7, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Former SMU Athletic Director Jim Copeland died on Friday at his home in Charlottesville at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.
Copeland, who was inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall Of Fame as part of its 2009 class, was a NACDA past President and served as a director of athletics at four institutions over the course of his career - SMU, Virginia, Utah and William & Mary.
"I greatly enjoyed working with Jim Copeland as a professional and as a friend," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "He played a key role in advancing our athletics program, leading transitions in conference membership, and planning and opening new facilities, including Ford Stadium and the Loyd All-Sports Center, that have been critical in bringing us where we are today. He will be greatly missed, and I know the University community joins me in sending thoughts and prayers to his family."
While at SMU, some of his biggest accomplishments included generating resources and building the state-of-the-art $62-million football facility, Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Under his tutelage, opportunities for female student-athletes increased and the athletics department accepted a bid to join Conference USA. Under Copeland's direction, three varsity women's sports were added and SMU teams won 58 conference regular season and tournament championships. Academic success was a large focus of Copeland's tenure at SMU as well, as 19 student-athletes were named academic All-Americans and SMU posted an impressive 89 percent in the NCAA's initial institutional Graduation/Success Rate.
Copeland served on the board of directors of the College Football Association, the NCAA Football Issues Committee, the NCAA Committee for Restructuring of Division I and the NCAA Division I Management Council.
Copeland spent eight years in the NFL, playing guard and center for the Cleveland Browns from 1967 until 1974. The 6-foot-2, 242-pounder played in college at Virginia.
Copeland was born in Charlottesville.
The family will receive friends from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Hill and Wood Funeral Home in Charlottesville, according to The Charlottesville Daily Progress. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Christ Episcopal Church, 120 W. High St. in Charlottesville.
Contributions may be made to the W. James Copeland Jr. Jefferson Scholarship at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, P.O. Box 400891, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4891; Peace Lutheran Church, 1510 Broad Crossing Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911; or Hospice of the Piedmont, 675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Suite 300, Charlottesville VA 22911.
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