KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, September 23. LEGENDARY Tennessee head coach Ray Bussard passed away last night surrounded by family at the Fort Sanders Hospital in Knoxville, Tenn. Bussard died at the age of 83 after battling illnesses, including diabetes and heart issues, that cost him his leg earlier this year and put him on a ventilator.
Bussard, known as an innovator, led the Tennessee men to an NCAA title in 1978 as well as Southeastern Conference titles in 1969 and from 1972-78 during the course of a 22-year career with the Volunteers. Bussard's innovations at Tennessee led to a distinct culture on Rocky Top during his time with the team. He created plenty of traditions, some of which have stood the test of time and remain to this day. He created the first usage of the coonskin hat by the Volunteers, made famous by Davy Crockett at the Alamo, with its introduction at a meet against SMU in Texas in 1971. Bussard also put a heavy emphasis on sprinting while at Tennessee, and introduced the concept he defined as "quickness control" that led to the "Tennessee Turn" and "Tennessee Start." Many of these principles are still seen throughout the sport today.
During his coaching career, Bussard led swimmers to six world records, three Olympic gold medals, 19 American records and 44 NCAA titles. He was named the National Coach of the Year in 1972 and 1978, and was named an assistant coach on four international trips (1978 USA-USSR Dual Meet, 1979 Pan American Games, 1984 Olympic Games, 1983 Pan Pacific Games). He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1999, is a member of the University of Tennessee Hall of Fame and also created the Tennessee Swimming Hall of Fame.