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Former SID George Wine dies, but not forgotten

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | JULY 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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George Wine loved Hawkeye sports. He earned a bachelor's from the University of Iowa in 1956 and moved away from Iowa City to serve as a sports-information director at now-Northern Iowa and Memphis.

But he came back after 12 years.

And he never left.

Wine passed away Thursday of a heart attack at age 81, just two days after undergoing hip-replacement surgery at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. His legacy, however, will never fade.

Wine served as Iowa's sports-information director from 1968 to 1993 and as sports-information director emeritus until 1996, when he retired. But even in retirement, Wine didn't disappear.

The Coralville resident cowrote former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry's book, High Porch Picnic, in 1999 and chronicled 100 years of Iowa history in his own book, Black & Gold Memories: The Hawkeyes of the 20th Century in 2003.

Wine wrote a weekly column for Hawkeyesports.com, his last "Wine Online" column appearing on April 17.

"[Wine] was a very fine writer," current sports-information director Steve Roe told The Daily Iowan on Thursday. "He has had a continued effect on the department and continued to share his perspective on Iowa athletics since his retirement. That's something that has been well-received, and respected, and honored."

Wine won more than 40 awards from the College Sports Information Directors of America, including induction into the group's hall of fame in 1985. Wine was honored with the All-America Football Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 and inducted to the Hawkeyes' National Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Kinnick Stadium Media Wall of Fame in 2006.

He deserved it all.

Roe worked under Wine for around three years. The former-sports-information director was a "steady influence" on Roe's just-blossoming career as he takes over the position from the recently retired Phil Haddy.

Wine implemented changes in Iowa athletics that continue to affect the university's sports today. Wine was responsible for the boom in Hawkeye sports, using his association with Hayden Fry to transform the coach's influence and spreading it to all of the other programs in the department.

Wine did it all because of the personal connections he made with athletes, coaches, the media, and fellow Athletics Department employees — connections made through his passion for Iowa sports.

"There were a lot more interpersonal relationships," Wine told the DI in 2006, when he was inducted into the Kinnick Wall of Fame. "My really best friends were members of the media …"

The Hawkeyes owe a lot to Wine. He made Fry into the legend that Iowa loves. He put Black and Gold sports on the NCAA map. He trained the Athletics Department's finest workers to continue to make Iowa sports shine.

He made the Hawkeyes who they are.

"[Iowa] has a very good reputation amongst sports-information personnel throughout the country," Roe said. "The reputation that Iowa does have is due in large part to what George has done."


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