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CSUN Athletics Mourns the Passing of Sam Winningham

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - CSUN Athletics is mourning the passing of former football coach and administrator Sam Winningham.

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - CSUN Athletics is mourning the passing of former football coach and administrator Sam Winningham.
Winningham, who served as CSUN's first head football coach from 1962 to 1968, passed away on April 19 at the age of 98.Winningham_Obit
The first head coach of Matador Football, Winningham coached the San Fernando Valley State College/CSUN football program from 1962-68. Winningham's tenure was highlighted by the Matadors' trip to the 1967 Junior Rose Bowl against West Texas State.
A special inductee into the CSUN Athletics Hall of Fame in 1987, Winningham also served as an Assistant Athletic Director and was Chairman of the Physical Education and Athletic Department from 1978-1988.
"Of all the titles he held – teacher, PhD, professor, department chair, and assistant athletics director – the role he cherished the most was Coach," said his son Scott Winningham.
In 2017, the University renamed the Matador Spirit Plaza in honor of Winningham commemorating the former football coach and his contributions to the University.
"For all five Winningham kids, San Fernando Valley State College/CSUN was a second home," added his daughter Beth Winningham. "Campus was a place that we were welcome at all times. Dad was so happy in all his roles at CSUN - coach, administrator, professor, and colleague. 
"Of course, as his kids, we just used to think how neat it was that 'Dad can open the pool for us!' because he had keys to everything! After retirement and in his last days when he was looking back on his life, CSUN was a highlight. CSUN was a place where he was supported and was able to blossom. He loved his students and colleagues. He felt very much a part of people's lives. CSUN was a place where he always felt he belonged."

Sam Winningham at the 2017
Spirit Plaza dedication

Bruce Lemmerman, the quarterback of the Junior Rose Bowl team and one of the all-time greats in Matador football history, spoke about his former coach at the dedication of the Winningham Spirit Plaza.

"Coach Winningham was not just a football coach, he was a life coach," said Lemmerman. "He used the game of football to teach people how to compete, how to work together so that the team succeeded no matter what the individual cost might be. To love and respect our differences as well as our similarities. To enjoy others' successes as well as our own. Even though at times we were not many (the dirty 30 as we were called), we were still strong when we all pulled in the same direction together. The Winningham Spirit Plaza will continue to keep that message alive."
Winningham is survived by his loving children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and extended family. 
A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, May 19. For further information, please contact Susan King at

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