Legendary former Carson-Newman football head coach and East Tennessee native Ken Sparks passed away early Wednesday morning at the age of 73 after a years-long battle with prostate cancer.
Coach Sparks was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012 and his battle with the disease continued until earlier this year when doctors stopped treating his disease. He had been in hospice care for several weeks at the time of his death.
Sparks was coach at Carson-Newman from 1980 until November of last year, when he retired, citing health. In his 37-year tenure at the helm of the Eagles, his teams won five NAIA national championships and 21 South Atlantic Conference titles while compiling a 338-99-2 record, which ranks him fifth all time in the number of wins for any coach in college football history.
His accomplishments on the field, however, were overshadowed by the legacy that he leaves not only at Carson-Newman, but across his native East Tennessee. A man of deep faith, Coach Sparks will long be remembered for his courageous fight against cancer but also for the positive impact he had on the hundreds, if not thousands, of young men that he coached to be winners on the field and, more importantly, off it.
The Sparks family has announced that they will be receiving friends Friday March 31st from 2 to 6 pm at Manley Baptist Church in Morristown with his funeral service to follow. Both the visitation and the service will be open to the public, but the family has requested that his burial be private.
We here at WYSH join with the rest of East Tennessee in mourning the loss of Coach Ken Sparks.