Tom Dowling, the first coach ever for the University of the Cumberlands football program (then Cumberland College), and former Commissioner of the Mid-South Conference, died Sunday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Funeral arrangements are not yet finalized.
Dowling played football for Georgetown College and was co-captain of the 1960 team. He also won the KAIC in shot put while competing for the school’s track team.
He coached at his alma mater from 1973-1976, then spent a seven year coaching stint at Liberty University, helping the program transition from from playing in the NAIA to NCAA Div. 2.
Dowling returned to Kentucky in 1985 to help start the football program at Cumberland College and served as head coach until 1995. He was commissioner of the Mid-South Conference from 1995 until 2002.
Dowling had been living in Georgetown at the time of his death.
He was a long-time member of Central Baptist Church in Corbin where he served as a Sunday School teacher and chairman of the church’s deacons.
“Tom was just coach,” said Chad Fugitt, pastor at Central Baptist Church. “He was a highly motivated person, in an infectiously positive way. He was a leader. A born leader.”
Read a more complete version of this story in Wednesday’s print edition of the News Journal.