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Former UT Coach Darrell K Royal Passes Away

Longtime University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal passed away this morning. He was 88-years-old.

Royal coached the Longhorns from 1957 to 1976 and led the team to three National Championships. Royal also served as athletic director from 1962 to 1979.

The University honored Royal in 1996 by renaming the football stadium, Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium. During the announcement, UT System chancellor William Cunningham said, “No individual has contributed more to athletics at UT-Austin than Darrell Royal. He is a living legend.”

Royal was the all-time winningest coach of the Longhorns.  KUT spoke with Royal's wife, Edith, last month. She said Royal enjoyed attending UT football games long after he retired from coaching the team.

A friend of the Royal family told KUT News that plans for his memorial services are underway. The LBJ Presidential Library has set up a memorial page for Royalwith photos and a phone conversation between Royal and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. 

After the news of Royal's passing broke this morning, fans used Twitter to express their reactions and condolences:

Richard Justice, an correspondent (@richardjustice): "RIP Darrell Royal.  Man of integrity and humor, intimidating and kind, absolutely brilliant with people."

Brian Jones (@BJ_CFB), a former UT football player and current football analyst for CBS Sports: "Thoughts and prayers to the Darrell Royal family and Longhorn Nation!  We lost a great one!"

Cole Constien (@ColeConstien): "Thank you for the memories Darrell Royal.  You have a place in every true sports fan's heart.  Rest in peace."

Yvette (@YLoTexas): "Rest in peace Coach Darrell Royal.  A great man, champion and Texan.  The Eyes of Texas shed a tear today.  Hook 'em."

Jeff Howe (@JeffHowe247), a football reporter for"Somber start to the day with the passing of Darrell Royla at age 88.  He's responsible for why so many cheer for the Longhorns."

Here's a statement from Governor Rick Perry on the passing of Darrell Royal:

“Darrell Royal was a coaching icon and the face of football in the Lone Star State for a generation of Texans. His legacy can be counted in national championships, but also in his unending devotion to his university and in the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease. Anita and I join Texans everywhere in mourning his loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife, Edith, son, Mack, and his extended family and friends.”

CurrentUT Football Head Coach Mack Brownalso shared his thoughts:

"Today is a very sad day. I lost a wonderful friend, a mentor, a confidant and my hero. College football lost maybe its best ever and the world lost a great man. I can hardly put in words how much Coach Royal means to me and all that he has done for me and my family. I wouldn't even be at Texas without Coach. His council and friendship meant a lot to me before I came to Texas, but it's been my guiding light for my 15 years here. "Coach gave so much more to the State of Texas and college football than he took away. He forgot more football than most of us will ever know, including me. His impact on the game, the coaches and players, the community and the millions of lives he touched, is insurmountable. He will be missed in so many ways. "I lost my Dad when I was 54, and Coach filled a real void in my life and treated me like family. Sally and I gained a lot coming to Texas and being a part of this tremendous program but no more than our relationship with Coach and Edith. They were our closest of friends. Our heart pours out to Edith and the family and our thoughts and prayers are with her and the family. We will always be there to lend any and all support that we can as she and Coach always did for us."

Mayor Lee Leffingwell also released a statement on Royal's passing: 

“Austin, and Texas, has lost a great friend. Coach Darrell Royal was a friend of our community, and a friend to Longhorn fans everywhere. I always enjoyed my time with Coach Royal. While I only got to know him at the end of his life, my father knew him in his younger days, and we all cheered enthusiastically for him. When we would see one another, he was quick with a joke and some helpful advice, and he was always supportive. He will forever be known to Longhorn fans simply as "Coach" and we know that he is taking another Longhorn victory to the next life. Our thoughts are with the Royal family today, as we all have our ‘horns held high.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott offered this tribute:

Coach Darrell Royal not only exemplified the excellence we all have come to expect in Texas, he helped shape it. While the UT stadium bears his name, Darrell Royal directly helped shape the legacy of greatness that inhabits the program and the university. We will remember him not only on Saturdays in the Fall, but year-round for his contribution to our state. From my work with the Darrell K. Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease, I have seen firsthand the incredible passion Darrell and Edith have shown in providing dignity to those affected by the disease. Cecilia and I offer our prayers to the Royal's during this difficult time, and hold in high regard our memories of a Texas legend.

University of Texas at Austin president Bill Powers sent this letter to employees.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff, Rarely has a single day so clearly marked the end of one era and the beginning of another, or brought together such feelings of sadness and excitement at the University. By now many of you will have heard of the passing early this morning of Coach Darrell K Royal. Coach Royal touched the lives of untold thousands. As a coach he transformed boys into young men and through his successes and leadership, he transformed the University itself. In the days ahead, there will be much written and said about Coach. Today, I want to simply express thanks for his life, his leadership, and his friendship. And I want to say to Edith and the family that the whole UT family is with you, as we both grieve the loss of this great and decent man and celebrate his remarkable life. At the same time, this will be remembered as the week that a UT Austin medical school became a reality. Yesterday, the voters of Travis County agreed, through passage of Proposition 1, to add the final crucial piece of the funding puzzle to this complex project. It would not have happened without the energy and leadership of Sen. Kirk Watson, and I want to thank him again for sharing our passion for this issue and leading the charge so ably. Additionally, I would like to thank our Board of Regents and the Seton Healthcare Family for supplying the school's other major building blocks. Healthy ATX and its members as well as UT students themselves were crucial to the initiative's success. I am sure that numerous other partners will join this great enterprise in time. A medical school will forever change the scale and scope of UT Austin education and research, and it will bring much needed specialties and community health care to Central Texas. In the coming months, we will form a steering committee of academic and medical leaders, begin the search for the school's inaugural dean, finalize the financial strategy, and move swiftly ahead on numerous logistical fronts such as where to construct the teaching hospital and academic buildings. Our goal is to open the school to its first 50 students in 2015 or 2016. I'm grateful to the citizens of Travis County for their vote of confidence in UT Austin's ability to leverage our state's flagship university for the betterment of the whole community. I'm equally excited about what this will mean for our faculty and students in the years and decades ahead.\ What starts here changes the world. Bill Powers President

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.