WARRENSBURG, Mo. — The University of Central Missouri announced longtime athletics leader Jerry Hughes died over the weekend after a battle with a brief illness.

Hughes served as the athletic director for the Mules and Jennies since 1983.

“Jerry was a friend and mentor to countless people, and his passing is a profound loss to the university and all of intercollegiate athletics,” UCM President Roger Best said. “He dedicated his life’s work to his alma mater, and the UCM athletics program is among the top in Division II because of his leadership. We will be forever grateful for his contributions to making UCM a better place for us all.”

During Hughes’ time as athletics director, the school Central Missouri won 179 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association championships entering the fall 2022 semester, 10 national championships, had 50 other top-four NCAA finishes, and made more than 300 NCAA postseason appearances.

The Central Missouri athletics program also won the MIAA All-Sports Trophy each year from 1998-99 until the award was discontinued in 2002-03 and took home the first two MIAA Commissioner’s Cups following the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons and again in 2019-20 and 2020-21. UCM finished second in the NACDA Directors’ Cup in 2010-11, the best finish in university and MIAA history after finishing third the previous two years.

Hughes was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and was named a Missouri Sports Legend, the highest honor bestowed by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, in Jan. 2016.

“Jerry Hughes was a giant in the world of intercollegiate athletics,” MIAA Commissnor Mike Racy said. He cared deeply about the success of Division II student-athletes and coaches, and his legacy of leadership in the NCAA, dating back to the 1980s, is in a class of its own. 

“Jerry was a great friend to me and my family, and I will miss him very much!”