Tommy McVay, Texas Tech's director of football operations for the past 23 years, died on Thursday. He was 76.
McVay, who served in that capacity under five different head coaches -- Spike Dykes, Mike Leach, Tommy Tuberville, Kliff Kingsbury and current coach Matt Wells -- was a fixture on the Texas Tech sideline and one of the most recognizable faces to those around the program.
"We are saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of our dear friend, Tommy McVay," Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a statement. "In my 10 years now at Texas Tech, I never met anyone that didn't like Coach McVay. He was an important part of our athletics department for over two decades, and I join his friends, family and countless former players and coaches who mourn his passing."
McVay died three days after suffering serious head and neck injuries in a fall at his home, according to a report by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
McVay was most notably credited with helping the Red Raiders initiate the recruitment of Wes Welker, who became Texas Tech's all-time leading receiver and eventually an NFL star and Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots. At the behest of Welker's high school coach, Rod Warner, McVay convinced Leach to pursue the lightly recruited Welker as the final member of Leach's first Texas Tech signing class.
"My heart is broken today with the passing of Tommy McVay," Welker, now the wide receivers coach with the San Francisco 49ers, said in a statement. "Throughout my life, there have been few people who took a chance on me, and Tommy was the first. As an 18-year old kid that nobody wanted, he believed in me. His contagious positive attitude and love he showed for all his players resonated throughout the building. I am forever grateful and lucky to have had Tommy come into my life. He will be missed but never forgotten!"
Prior to his time at Texas Tech, McVay spent 13 years as a high school coach in Kansas, compiling a 100-36-2 record and two state runner-up finishes. He entered the college ranks as an assistant coach at Kansas State. The Red Raiders' season opener on Sept. 12 would have marked the start of his 24th season with the program.
"Tommy McVay was one of the first people I met on my first day in Lubbock," Wells said. "Man, what a legend. I will always remember and be forever thankful for the encouragement he provided me and the role he played on our staff in our short time together. The sport of college football needs more Tommy McVays in it."
McVay is survived by his wife, Chele, and their two daughters, Kelly and Heather, as well as several grandchildren.