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Published October 30, 2011, 03:30 AM

Former UND Football Coach Gene Murphy Dies at 72

Murphy was a UND player, assistant coach and head coach.

By: Pat Sweeney, WDAZ

Former University of North Dakota football coach Gene Murphy died Saturday at the age of 72.

Murphy, a resident of Fullerton, CA, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in September.

The Orange County Register reported that Murphy had undergone an operation Tuesday to treat the cancer and was recuperating normally until his heart stopped Friday. Two attempts to resuscitate him were successful but the third was not.

Murphy was a UND quarterback in the early 1960s. He was later an assistant coach at UND, and served as head coach in 1978 and 1979, posting a record of 15-7-0. His best season was 1979, when UND was 10-2 and won a North Central Conference championship with a 5-1 mark. The 1979 Sioux team reached the NCAA playoffs, but was eliminated with a 35-15 loss at Mississippi College in the first round.

Murphy was head coach at California State Fullerton from 1980 to 1992. He later coached at Fullerton College.

Murphy was known for his sense of humor. In October, he sent friends an email disclosing his cancer, stating, "...on the 25th of (October), I will have surgery at the University of Spoiled Children--USC."

Murphy was a consultant for the Fullerton College football program when he died, the Orange County Register reported.

Murphy is survived by his daughter, Aileen, and her mother, Christine McCarthy, and sons Tim and Mike and their families, according to the Register.