E. Illinois assistant coach dies in wreck

Updated: November 29, 2009, 8:11 PM ET
Associated Press

EFFINGHAM, Ill. -- Eastern Illinois assistant football coach Jeff Hoover was killed in a car crash as he returned home from a playoff game against Southern Illinois. He was 41.

Hoover and his family were riding with strength coach Eric Cash and his family late Saturday when their Chevrolet Suburban swerved to miss a deer and rolled over just south of Effingham, athletic department spokesman Rich Moser said Sunday.

Two children also in the vehicle have been released from the hospital, while a third child is being held for observation, Moser said. Cash, wife Sherri and Hoover's wife, Penny, are in stable condition at Carle Hospital in Champaign, he said.

Effingham is about 30 miles south of Eastern Illinois' campus in Charleston.

Hoover joined Eastern Illinois in 2007 after serving as the offensive coordinator at Portland State. He also worked at Henderson State, Utah State, Claremont-McKenna College and his alma mater, UC Davis, and briefly coached the Arena Football League's Sacramento Attack.

"We are very saddened by the loss of Jeff Hoover," Eastern Illinois athletic director Barbara Burke said. "He was a valuable member of our football staff and was looked up to by the young men in our football program. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Penny and their two children along with Eric Cash and his family in this difficult time."

Chris Vaccaro, an EIU offensive lineman, said Hoover always asked for the best from his players.

"Football coaches around the country turn into a second father for most of us players and for some of us our only father figure. Coach Hoover was that person to many of us," Vaccaro said. "He was a great man and a great coach."

The tragedy marks the second death this month for the athletic department. Assistant women's basketball coach Jackie Moore died Nov. 4 after collapsing as she started a workout. Doctors said the 28-year-old's heart "just stopped."

A memorial service for Hoover is planned, but no details were immediately available.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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