Lorne Davies during his days as athletic director at SFU.

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Lorne Davies, SFU’s founding athletic director, dies at 84

March 03, 2015
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The University will hold a celebration of life for Lorne Davies on Sunday, March 8 at 11 a.m. in the West Gym on the Burnaby campus, with a reception to follow in the Central Gym.

By Steve Frost

The Simon Fraser University community is saddened to learn that its founding athletic director and head football coach, Lorne Davies, died on Feb. 27 after battling health issues.

Davies, who was 84, is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, June, sons, Lorne Jr. and Glyn, and a large extended family.

“Lorne meant everything to SFU athletics—it was his life's work,” says Milton Richards, senior director of Athletics and Recreation, Student Services.

“We will forever carry his spirit in our hearts every time our student athletes put on the Clan uniform to enter competition. Our crest will always be a tribute to Lorne, his values, and his vision.”

Davies chose the original Clan colours blue, red, and white, and often told audiences that blue represented loyalty, red was for courage, and white for honesty.

The family has not yet determined funeral arrangements, but has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Lorne Davies Endowment for SFU Athletics.

Davies became the first athletic director and football coach at SFU in 1965, and almost immediately began masterminding some of the most forward-thinking measures in Canadian university sport. Davies hired full-time coaches, promoted female participation in university sport, awarded athletic scholarships to student athletes, and took the Clan on a path to compete in the United States against American competition in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), offering student athletes access to the American athletic experience along with a Canadian education.

These core values continue to drive Clan athletics today. In an historic return to its athletic roots, Simon Fraser University was approved in 2010 as the first non-U.S. member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the world’s largest college sports organization. Simon Fraser University is the only school in Canada that offers student athletes access to the NCAA athletic experience and a Canadian education.

Davies grew the athletic department from three programs in 1965 (football, basketball and swimming) to one of the most successful university athletic departments in the country, with 17 men’s and women’s programs.

Davies coached the football team for eight years and his 34-21-1 record and .616 winning percentage remain that program’s benchmark. In 1970, Davies was the architect of the school’s only undefeated football season when the Clan went 8-0.

The coaches and athletes that Davies brought to SFU for that first season in 1965 started a tradition of excellence.  Davies’ first wave of football recruiting classes yielded a judge (Jim Jardine), a doctor (Jack Taunton), lawyers (Dave Syme, Glen Orris), teachers (Joe Bell, Bryan Ansley), successful entrepreneurs (Wayne Holm, Ted Warkentin) and Canadian Football League greats (Dave Cutler, Terry Bailey). Under Davies’ watch, the Clan sent more players to the CFL than any other university in Canada.

Davies’ grandson, JR, played for SFU from 2001-2004 and quarterbacked the Clan to its first-ever playoff win, 53-46, over Regina in 2003. JR Davies directed the team to a 7-4 record and Canada West Championship that season, setting or equalling five school records, including yards passing in a game (483) and consecutive passes without an interception (242).

A familiar figure around campus until very recently, Davies continued to serve as executive director of the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award program, housed at the Burnaby campus, after his retirement as athletic director.

The BC Sports Hall of Fame paid tribute to Davies in 2010 when he entered the Hall.

Davies is a member of the SFU Sports Hall of Fame (1986), Western Washington University Sports Hall of Fame (1995), Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame (2009), BC Sports Hall of Fame (2010), BC Football Hall of Fame (2011) and was also awarded the Premier of British Columbia Award in 1994, the Order of BC in 2000 and an honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2014.