Legendary former coach Jack Pardee dies at 76
After a lengthy battle with cancer, legendary former UH football head coach Jack Pardee died Monday at 76.
Pardee was diagnosed with terminal gall bladder cancer in November.
Head coach Tony Levine said Pardee was a special person and coach for the University.
“I just found out about that coming off the field a few minutes ago. It’s extremely sad news,” Levine said. “Again, when you talk about the University of Houston, coach Pardee is a name that comes right to the forefront of everybody’s mind. His family is very close and his extended family is very close to our program.”
UH announced the Pardee Family has established the Jack Pardee Memorial Scholarship Fund with the Athletics Department, which will be awarded to a walk-on from the program each season.
“He truly loved the time spent at the University of Houston and wanted to find a way to help a deserving, hardworking, dedicated athlete who might not have the means to pay for their own college tuition,” said Pardee’s youngest son, Ted, in a press release. “He could have offered his name to a lot of different charities or scholarship funds, but this was what my dad wanted to do. I hope you will join our family in support of this worthy fund.”
Pardee served as head coach for the Cougars from 1987 to ’89. He became the first coach in NCAA history to produce an African American who won the Heisman Trophy as a quarterback in Andre Ware. In a game versus SMU, Pardees’ Cougars became the first major NCAA team to produce more than 1,000 yards in offense in a 95-21 victory.
Pardee and his family moved to Texas when he was young. He excelled as a member of the six-man football team in Christoval.
Pardee was a stand-out linebacker at Texas A&M from 1954 to ’56 and was drafted as the 14th overall draft pick in the 1957 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams.
His sickness began when he was diagnosed with melanoma, forcing him to sit out a year, but he was able to play for seven more seasons. Pardee finished his playing career with the Washington Redskins in 1973.
Pardee was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1986.
After his playing career, Pardee coached in college and the NFL.
Pardee coached the Florida Blazers in the World Football League — a league that started in 1974. He transitioned into the NFL to serve as head coach for the Chicago Bears from 1975 to ’77 and the Washington Redskins from ’78 to ’80, and he was defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers in 1981.
Pardee returned to his home state to coach for the Houston Gamblers in the United States Football League from 1990 to ’94.
After the USFL was discontinued, he switched his focus toward UH.
Ted said Jack Pardee was a loving father.
“My dad was committed to football, but he was always close to his family,” Ted said to the Houston Chronicle. “He had a lot of love to give. He was a sweet guy who was never afraid to give us a hug and kiss. He fought a tough battle, and we’re going to miss him.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Andre Ware was the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. He was the first African American quarterback to win the Heisman.