Gene Bartow: UAB Legend and Father Figure Has Died at 81

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterJanuary 3, 2012

Fans and supporters of UAB and college sports in general will be sad to hear that Gene Bartow has reportedly passed after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. 

The Birmingham News reports the man known as "The Father of UAB Athletics" died at the age of 81. His 34 years as basketball head coach managed to touch a great deal of people that will surely miss him. 

Bartow made the UAB athletic program what it is today. Any success that is afforded to it has been built on the hard work and enthusiasm of a man that loved to be around basketball. 

More than that, he loved to be around people, and that is what made him such a well-respected figure and friend to so many. 

Memphis head basketball coach Josh Pastner had a few words and paints a vivid picture with them via a report filed by Steve Irvine for The Birmingham News.

The best description I can give of Coach Bartow is he was as nice a human being and as good a human being as you'll find. It doesn't matter if you're the janitor or the president of the United States, he treated everyone the same. He was just a good person, an unbelievable soul. 

Those in Westwood would not let Bartow step in John Wooden's shoes, no matter how great a coach he was then and proved to be later. 

With that two-year stop over, Bartow moved onto smaller but better things at UAB. In his own words, Bartow was proud of his accomplishments, as we were to have had them. 

I'm proud of the fact that I've had two Final Four teams and I had three Final Eight teams. There are not very many in our profession that have had that. With that said, I wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the UAB story.

The college basketball ranks were forever changed thanks to Bartow's contributions. The sport lost a great man that molded so many fine athletes.