He suggested a young athletic director at Mississippi State, Greg Byrne. Mc Kale to Dempsey to Olson to Byrne in a tidy 98 years.Many of the “best 100 days” on our list are part of that lineage.
The man who hired Snowden, Arizona athletic director Dave Strack, grew up in Michigan and often officiated Albion’s varsity basketball games at the time Dempsey was a standout forward.
When Strack left Arizona’s AD job in 1982, he was replaced by Dempsey, who eight months later hired Lute Olson as the UA’s basketball coach.
In 2010, when Arizona was looking to fill its vacant AD job, the school hired Dempsey to identify the most suitable replacement.
Corbett coordinated Tucson’s acquisitions of the PGA Tour, major-league spring training and minor-league baseball.“Without Pop,” UA Vice President Swede Johnson said after both men died in 1967, “our athletic department would be closer to that of New Mexico State.”Without Corbett, Tucson’s image to outsiders, especially potential residents and tourists, might have been closer to that of El Paso.
The Star's summerlong series, “The 100 Best Days in Tucson Sports History,” will include events that began in 1912, in every conceivable sport from steer wrestling to auto racing.
Most of the 100 events we have chosen can be linked in some form to Mc Kale and Corbett.
Mc Kale, a chemistry major, graduated from Albion (Michigan) College in 1910 and was hired to be a coach and history teacher at Tucson High School, beginning Sept. Seven years after Mc Kale retired, the UA hired another Albion College grad, Cedric Dempsey, to be the school’s first full-time assistant basketball coach. Before leaving Michigan, Dempsey went to Detroit’s Southwestern High School to recruit prospects for Albion.
Section 16-D of Tucson’s Evergreen Cemetery has for 49 years been the eternal resting place for James Fred “Pop” Mc Kale.
If you walk 25 paces from Mc Kale’s grave, you find the burial site of Hiram S. What are the odds that the two men most responsible for building Tucson’s sports enterprise, college and pro, would die within 35 days of one another, and be buried no more than 35 yards apart?
For the first 67 years of the 20th century, Pop Mc Kale and Hi Corbett were the singular titans of Tucson sports.
Mc Kale was the UA’s athletic director and football, baseball and basketball coach.