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Huskie Legend Bob Brigham Passes Away

The former player, coach, and athletic director served NIU for more than 50 years.

Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium
Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium
Jonathan Daniel

Dr. Robert Brigham passed away Sunday morning at the age of 90. And while many of the new fans might only know Dr. Bob Brigham from the playing surface of Huskie Stadium, where, at midfield, right under the NIU logo the words Brigham Field are painted - and there's a reason the field was dedicated to him in 2003.

Brigham was born in Marion, Illinois on March 2, 1924 and, after serving in the Navy during World War II, he enrolled at NIU in the fall of 1946. After being cut from the football team as a freshman, Brigham was determined to make the team the following year. His sophomore year he succeeded, and became the Huskies starting fullback, where he would make his mark for the next three years. Not only was he was one of the best blocking fullbacks NIU has ever seen, but he was one of the best runners as well - graduating holding three records, most rushing yards in a game (242 in 1948), in a season (786 rushing yards in 1948), and most rushing yards in a career with 1,221. Not only was he a star on the football field, but he also lettered in wrestling.

After graduating, he began coaching high school football and wrestling while obtaining his masters degree. It wasn't until 1955 that he rejoined the Huskies, this time as an assistant football coach. In 1956 he would become the Huskies wrestling coach as well, where in 11 years he would post an 82-45-6 record, had five national champions, and 11 All-Americans. At the same time on the gridiron, he was helping NIU to a College Division national title (now called the FCS) in 1963, when the Huskies went 10-0.

In 1968, Brigham replaced Chick Evens as the Athletic Director where he helped NIU move up to the University Division (now FBS) in 1969 and helped many of Huskie teams to flourish. Brigham was a pivotal force in getting NIU in to the MAC in the early 1970's and saw multiple conference championship teams - such as the 1972 baseball, 1973 soccer, 1976 golf, the 1982-83 men's basketball and gymnastic teams, and the 1983 football team that won NIU's first major bowl game.

After fifteen years as Athletic Director, Brigham became Special Assistant to the President in 1983 where he would stay until his retirement in 2001. He was admitted to NIU's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. Brigham is survived his wife of 64 years, Gertrude, two sons Robert Jr. and David, four grandchildren, and great grandchild.