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Tuesday May 14, 2013Beloved Coach Mac -- James Roland McCachren was his proper name -- passes away at 101

Updated: 11:26am, May 14

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The last time UF historian Norm Carlson recalls seeing James Roland McCachren – anyone who knew him called him “Coach Mac” – was at a gathering to celebrate McCachren’s 100th birthday.

McCachren hit the century mark in September 2011, only 15 years after he finally retired for good from UF’s College of Heath and Human Performance as a physical education instructor.

Coach Mac

“He immediately started cracking old-time stories,’’ Carlson said Tuesday. “He was as chipper as always.”

McCachren, a familiar face around UF for nearly 70 years, passed away Friday at 101.

McCachren arrived at UF in 1946 when he took a position on the faculty of what was then called the College of Physical Education, Health and Athletics.

During his career at UF McCachren served as head coach of the freshman basketball team and later was an assistant under four UF head coaches from 1950-72. Until his death McCachren lived for more than 60 years in a house across University Avenue from The Swamp and was a regular presence at the racquetball courts named in his honor that used to be in the field north of the stadium.

“He and his brothers are legendary in Chapel Hill," said Carlson, referring to McCachren’s time as a three-sport athlete at the University of North Carolina in the early 1930s. McCachren was captain of the Tar Heels basketball team and played a football game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium long before he worked at UF – a 9-0 Florida win over North Carolina in October 1933.

McCachren was inducted into the UF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.

“At first I was stunned,’’ he said at the time. “But now I am extremely happy and thankful.”

For more on McCachren and details of his funeral service Friday, you can click this link which also includes a guest book for family and friends to sign.

Carlson first got to know McCachren in the early 1950s when he tried out for the UF freshman basketball team. McCachren didn’t think too much of Carlson’s skills and told him so in front of the team.

After Carlson graduated in 1956, he returned to UF as sports-information director in 1963 and developed a 50-year friendship with McCachren as the two would often hang together on road trips for men’s basketball games.

Carlson said if you met McCachren, you liked him.

“He always stayed involved and was just a wonderful guy,’’ Carlson said. “You loved being around him because of his sense of humor.”

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