CALGARY - Dennis Kadatz, a man considered the father of the University of Calgary's athletic program, died Monday at age 80.

The University of Calgary announced Kadatz's death in a statement Thursday.

An Alberta Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Kadatz wasn't only a proponent of university sport.

He was the president of the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) in the leadup to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Now known as WinSport, CODA managed and operated facilities that have made Canada an international winter-sport powerhouse. Kadatz remained with CODA until his retirement in 1999.

But "The Big Dinnie," as he was known, had an enduring impact on university athletics in Calgary. He was associated with the campus for 55 years.

Kadatz was the first football coach at what was then the University of Alberta-Calgary in 1964 at the age of 25.

He took on the additional role as athletic director two years later and navigated the football team to a national title that year.

Along with Dr. Lou Goodwin, the school's founding dean of physical education, Kadatz influenced many aspects of the athletic department and hired many coaches including hockey's George Kingston.

Kadatz served as president of the Canada West conference, as well as secretary-treasurer of what is now U Sports, the national governing body of university sport.

He helped convince the Alberta government to create an athletic scholarship fund of $3.5 million to student athletes.

Kadatz took on the added responsibility of associate dean of physical education in 1980. He led the facility design for the university's kinesiology wing and what is now the Jack Simpson Gym and the Olympic Oval.

The University of Calgary's athlete-of-the-year awards are named after Kadatz.

He presented them for the last time personally in April to football player Adam Sinagra and track and field athlete Niki Oudenaarden.

In his obituary, Kadatz's family thanked doctors who treated him for Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), which according to the Canadian Cancer Society is a disease in which bone marrow doesn't product enough healthy mature blood cells.

Kadatz is survived by his wife Denise, three children and six grandchildren. A celebration of his life is scheduled for June 25 at McMahon Stadium in the Red and White club.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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