LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Former UNLV football player and head coach Wayne Nunnely has died at the age of 68. He was touted as a “groundbreaking” figure, as he was the only Rebels player to become a head coach at the school.
“We are saddened to learn of the passing of former head coach Wayne Nunnely,” said Desiree Reed-Francois, UNLV director of athletics, in a news release. “He was a role model as our only football alumnus to later become head coach and was truly blessed to have touched so many lives while teaching the sport he loved for nearly four decades.”
Nunnely played for the Rebels as a fullback in 1972 after transferring from Citrus Junior College, according to UNLV. He became a Rebels graduate assistant coach in 1976, then returned in 1982 to coach the Rebels’ running backs. Nunnely became interim head coach in 1986, making him the first Black head football coach on the West Coast and fifth in NVAA Division One history, UNLV says.
When Nunnely left the program in 1989, his record was 19-25. After stints at universities, he coached in the pros, working with the Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints.
“Wayne was a great guy…a kind guy. Always liked working with him,” said 8 Sports Now reporter Ron Futrell. “Most of all, his players loved playing for him, and that says a lot.”
Nunnely raised four children with his wife, Velda.