Butters, Duke AD who hired Krzyzewski, dies at 77

(WTVD)

Former Duke athletic director Tom Butters, best known as the man who hired Mike Krzyzewski, has died.

Duke spokesman Art Chase said Friday the family told him Butters died Thursday night at age 77. The cause of death was not announced.

Butters hired Krzyzewski to coach the Blue Devils' men's basketball team in 1980. Butters stuck with Krzyzewski after consecutive 17-loss seasons and he went on to lead Duke to five national championships and set the Division I men's record with 1,040 victories.

Krzyzewski says that "outside of my mom, no one believed in me more than Tom."

North Carolina coach Roy Williams, speaking from Houston where his team is in the Final Four, also paid tribute to Butters.

"Tom Butters was awfully nice to a young Coach Roy Williams when I first got to Kansas," Williams said. "And he should be applauded for sticking with Mike Krzyzewski those early years.

"It's a sad day," Williams said.

Butters pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1962-65, coached Duke's baseball team from 1968-70, served as the school's AD for 20 years (1977-1997) and founded the university's Iron Dukes fundraising organization.

"I truly loved everything Tom stood for as a man," Krzyzewski said. "And it is safe to say he has always been a hero and role model of mine. His influence on Duke Athletics and well beyond is still felt throughout the college sports industry today. On a more personal note, we are so thankful he played such an enormous role in the Krzyzewski family for so long."

Duke annually graduated over 95 percent of its student athletes during Butters' regime, highlighted by nine Academic Achievement Awards for leading the nation in football graduation rate between 1981 and 1997. Butters' efforts to promote athletic success as well as academic excellence was rewarded in 1996, when he received a lifetime achievement honor from the All-American Football Foundation, the Gen. Robert R. Neyland Award for Athletic Directors.

Butters is survived by his wife Lynn, daughter Jill Steidle and son-in-law Ward Steidle of Malvern, Pa., son Bret and daughter-in-law Nancy of Durham and six grandchildren.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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