Bill Foster, the basketball coach who led the Gamecocks from 1980-86, died Thursday.
He was 86.
Foster passed away peacefully in Chicago and was surrounded by his family and friends, said his daughter, Debbie Foster.
Foster coached four different Division I basketball teams to 20-win seasons: Duke, South Carolina, Utah and Rutgers. He also was the head coach toward the end of his career at Northwestern.
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Foster and his wife were living in Texas in the summer of 2015 and drove to the Carolinas for a family reunion and beach trip. On the way home, though, Foster was forced to make a detour to Charlotte because he was feeling poorly. He ended up in the hospital for several days.
Debbie said more than 100 people sent emails and cards, including ACC commissioner John Swofford and many former Duke and South Carolina fans. They all reminisced about Foster’s on-court classiness and the many personal kindnesses he bestowed upon people when the cameras were off.
“All those emails and cards meant so much to him,” Debbie Foster said Thursday. “He read them all several times.”
The family plans a private funeral in Chicago. A memorial service will also be held at a later date.
A huge coup when he was hired in 1980, Foster came to USC from Duke, which he rebuilt into a national power. Foster went 113-64 in six seasons with the Blue Devils, winning two ACC championships and advancing to the 1978 national championship game.
Known as a builder after producing solid programs at Rutgers and Utah, Foster was hired to replace the legendary Frank McGuire (Duke, in turn, replaced Foster with an unknown from Army named Mike Krzyzewski). Foster went 92-79 in six seasons at USC, making one NIT, before he resigned and was replaced by George Felton.
Foster’s tenure was rocky. He was just beginning to enjoy his rebuilt product when a heart attack (after an upset of Purdue) knocked him out for nine weeks of the 1982-83 season. Foster recovered from quadruple bypass surgery to return to the bench, and the Gamecocks went 22-9 and won two games in the NIT.
USC joined the Metro Conference the next season and Foster never quite got his feet under him, posting one winning season over his final three years. He resigned and finished his career at Northwestern.