John Francis “Jack” Doyle, 80, died at his home in Encinitas, CA, on Sept. 6, 2013.
Jack was born in Manhattan, NY on March 15, 1933, to John and Helen (Kissane) Doyle, immigrants from County Kerry, Ireland. The family later moved to the Bronx. At 15, Jack joined the Army National Guard’s “Fighting 69th” regiment, serving in the guard until 1962.
Jack launched his career in athletics in 1947, when he began selling concessions in the stands of Yankee Stadium, Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds. He worked a wide range of events, from baseball and football games to boxing matches and a Mass celebrated by the pope.
While watching baseball greats like Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle, Jack became a lifelong Yankee fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of sports. As a quarter-miler, he earned a track scholarship to Power Memorial High School in Manhattan.
He also attended the University of Wyoming on an athletic scholarship, completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education in 1957 and 1966. During 1997-98, he served as president of the school’s alumni association board of directors.
In Laramie, Jack met nursing student Lois Naslund of Faith, SD. They married on June 30, 1955. He began coaching in Faith in 1957, leading the Longhorns to the 1960 conference basketball championship. Jack completed his high school coaching career in Lead, SD (1960-71), where the basketball team compiled a 72-37 record.
Jack was hired as USD’s assistant basketball coach in 1971, and named head coach in 1973. His responsibilities included fundraising for the DakotaDome, which replaced the New Armory in 1979.
One of Jack’s career highlights was co-coaching the USD and SDSU basketball players who made diplomatic history in 1977 when they played Cuba’s national team in Havana. Led by Senators James Abourezk and George McGovern, the South Dakotans were the first U.S. delegation to enter Cuba after the Bay of Pigs incident.
Jack was USD’s athletic director from 1982-98. Under his leadership, Coyote teams won 21 North Central Conference (NCC) championships, played in the 1986 NCAA football championship game, and earned consecutive appearances in the Division II Elite Eight national basketball tournament. He initiated numerous upgrades to the DakotaDome.
In 1999, Jack received the NCC Honor Award and was inducted into the Coyote Sports Hall of Fame. He worked at the USD Foundation office until retiring in 2010, completing 39 years at the university.
On the national level, he served on the NCAA President’s Commission Liaison Committee, chaired the NCAA Division II Basketball Committee, and was a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) executive committee. He was inducted into the NACDA Hall of Fame in 2006.
Jack found the mentoring of his student athletes and coaching staffs one of the most fulfilling aspects of his career, and he attributed much of his success to their hard work and team play. Above all, he was a team player, with a deep respect for others and love for his adopted state and its people.
Jack took great joy in spending time with family and friends. He played slow pitch softball until he was 70, and enjoyed golfing, dancing and listening to Irish and country music. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus at St. Agnes Catholic Church and active in the Vermillion Lions Club.
Jack is survived by Lois; their children, Mary Doyle, Anne (Hal) Rosner, Lisa Reynolds, Daniel (Karen) Doyle and Kerry Doyle (all of San Diego), and Michael (Dixie) Doyle and Christopher (Beth) Doyle of Rapid City; 13 grandchildren, including Kevin (Mel) Doyle of Vermillion; two great-granddaughters; sister, Eleanor (Joseph) O’Connor of Long Beach Island, NJ; brother, Joseph (Terry) of Rancho Palos Verdes, CA; sister-in-law, Enid Doyle of New Providence, NJ; sister- and brother-in-law, James and Mary Riley of Lincoln, NE; and 15 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Dennis Doyle; and nephew, Darren Doyle.
A private memorial was held in San Diego on Sept. 8.
At 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11, Jack’s life and legacy will be celebrated at a memorial Mass at St. Agnes, followed by a gathering at 5:30 p.m. at Howler’s Bar & Grille (formerly The Prairie). Burial will be at 11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 14, at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Rapid City.
The family may be contacted at P.O. Box 372 in Vermillion. A Jack Doyle Scholarship Fund has been established by the University of South Dakota Foundation (P.O. Box 5555, Vermillion, SD 57069, 605-677-6703).