Former UCLA Soccer Coach Tom Fitzgerald Passes Away
Dec. 6, 2004
Former UCLA men's soccer coach Tom Fitzgerald has passed away after injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident in Florida on Dec. 4.
Fitzgerald led UCLA to the 2002 NCAA Championship in his first season coaching in Westwood. That accomplishment made him the first Division I men's soccer coach ever to lead a team to an undisputed title in his first year with the school. He also led UCLA to two straight Pac-10 Conference titles and to an impressive 38-5-4 record over his two seasons. Fitzgerald was the NSCAA/adidas National Coach of the Year in 2002 and the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2003.
He left UCLA after the 2003 season for the University of Tampa to be closer to family. Fitzgerald had begun his collegiate coaching career at UT and led the team to the NCAA Division II title in 1994. He was one of just three men's soccer coaches to win NCAA titles at both the Division I and II levels. He was inducted into the University of Tampa's Athletic Hall of Fame in October.
Fitzgerald coached Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew from 1996-2001, leading his team to three consecutive Eastern Conference finals (1997-99) and to the 1998 U.S. Open Cup Finals.
Fitzgerald, who was born on Mar. 14, 1951, is survived by his wife Debi and sons Shane and Jesse.
'We are deeply saddened to hear of Tom's passing,' said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero. 'He was a master at his craft and the consummate gentleman. He will forever be linked with the coaching greats at UCLA after leading his team to a national championship in his first year at the helm. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Debi and the rest of the Fitzgerald family.'
'It's obviously a tragedy and a huge loss,' added Bruin head coach Jorge Salcedo, who was an assistant coach under Fitzgerald for his two seasons in Westwood and also played for Fitzgerald as a youth national team player and as a professional with the Columbus Crew. 'Tom was a very good soccer coach but an even better person. Although his time at UCLA was short, he will always be remembered for the great contributions to the program, and more importantly, to the players.'
From 1-3 pm on Tuesday, the Fitzgerald family will receive friends at Blount & Curry Funeral Home, 605 S. MacDill Ave., with a memorial service starting at 3 p.m. The family will then make its way to the University of Tampa for the university's memorial service at 4:30 at Pepin/Rood Stadium.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be sent to the University of Tampa men's soccer endowed scholarship in his name.