UT-Rio Grande Valley basketball coach Lew Hill suddenly dies day after final game

Lew Hill died Sunday at age 55

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 15: Head Coach Lew Hill of the Texas-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros tries to talk to the referee during a semifinal game of the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on March 15, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. New Mexico State won 79-72. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images) (Joe Buglewicz, 2019 Getty Images)

EDINBURG, Texas – Texas Rio Grande Valley coach Lew Hill died Sunday, a day after coaching what was his final game, the university said.

Hill, who was 55, was in his fifth season as coach of the Vaqueros, who lost 77-75 against Texas Southern on Saturday night.

The school, which is located in Edinburg, said the cause of death was not known, and didn’t provide any other details.

Stadium college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman broke the news Sunday evening, reporting Hill died in his sleep.

Hill took over at Rio Grande Valley in 2016-17, right after going to the NCAA Final Four as an assistant coach on Lon Kruger’s staff at Oklahoma.

Hill was an assistant for Kruger with the Sooners from 2011-16 after seven seasons with Kruger at UNLV (2004-11).

“Words cannot describe how any of us feel right now. Everyone in our department is devastated by this news,” Rio Grande Valley athletic director Chasse Conque said. “Coach Hill was an incredible human being. He was my close friend and a trusted colleague. He cared deeply about those around him, from his family, to his players, to his staff and really, everyone in the department and at UTRGV.”

The school said it would name an acting head coach soon, and make a determination on the status of upcoming games.

“This is a tragic loss, not only for the UTRGV community but for the entire Rio Grande Valley community,” school president Guy Bailey said. “Coach Hill was very involved in the community and always had a knack for making everyone he met feel special. On behalf of the entire university, we convey our heartfelt condolences to Coach Hill’s family and friends. Please keep them in your thoughts in the following days.”

Hill, who was originally from Mount Vernon, New York, also was an assistant coach at South Alabama (1990-92), Southeast Missouri State (1992-94), East Carolina (1994-98) and Texas A&M (1998-2004).

Rio Grande Valley was 8-4 this season under Hill. He had a 66-77 record with the Vaqueros, including a 20-win season in 2018-19. The Vaqueros played in two postseason tournaments under Hill.

Hill is survived by his wife and their two children, a son and a daughter, and Hill also had three other daughters.


About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.