Former West Virginia coach Bill Stewart dies of apparent heart attack

Former West Virginia coach Bill Stewart died of an apparent heart attack Monday, according to a release sent out by the school.

Stewart, 59, was playing in a golf outing sponsored by the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association at Stonewall Jackson resort with former WVU athletic director Ed Pastilong when he collapsed. He was taken to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston, W.Va., where he was pronounced dead.

"Mountaineer nation is truly saddened today to learn of the untimely passing of Coach Bill Stewart," West Virginia president Jim Clements said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the Stewart family and Bill's many friends. He was a compassionate, energetic, and kind person. He loved his family dearly and was extremely community-oriented and very giving of his time. He will be greatly missed."

Stewart will probably best be known as the man who both saved and tarnished West Virginia during his three seasons with the Mountaineers.

In 2007, after coach Rich Rodriguez announced he was leaving the program for Michigan, Stewart led the Mountaineers to a 48-28 upset win over No. 3 Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and became the knee-jerk emotional fulltime replacement for Rodriguez. It wasn't a terrible hire. Stewart won nine games in each of his three seasons, but West Virginia knew the experiment needed to end and brought in former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen as a coach-in-waiting.

This began Stewart's downfall.

Colin Dunlap, who covered the Mountainners for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in December, but had resigned in May, told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that Stewart called him on Dec. 18 and asked him to dig up "dirt" on Holgorsen. Athletic director Oliver Luck asked Stewart to resign and his head coaching career with the Mountainners ended as emotionally and abruptly as it began.

Despite the way Stewart's career ended, it's hard to find a student-athlete who didn't enjoy playing for him or a person who met him who didn't genuinely enjoy his company.

"Like all of us in the West Virginia community, I am shocked and saddened by the passing of Coach Stewart," Holgorsen said in a statement. "The State of West Virginia, our University and our football program has lost a true Mountaineer who gave his native state university a decade of coaching service and a lifetime of guidance and inspiration to thousands of young men over a 33-year career. Though Coach Stewart achieved many great milestones on the field, we will most remember his kindness and compassion. Our football family expresses our deepest sympathy to Karen, Blaine and the extended Stewart family."

West Virginia University did not have any further details about services for its former head coach.

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