MLS mourns loss of Tom Fitzgerald
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Columbus Crew has issued the following statement in regards to former Crew Head Coach Tom Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was killed in a motorcycle accident on Saturday, Dec. 4, in Tampa, Fla.
"The Columbus Crew is deeply saddened by the loss of former Crew Head Coach Tom Fitzgerald," said Crew Interim General Manager Mark McCullers. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Tom was an integral component in the organization's early development and left a lasting impression. He was an active member of the Columbus community and will always be a part of the Crew Family."
"Lamar Hunt and Family and the Hunt Sports Group are mourning the loss of Tom Fitzgerald," said Hunt Sports President John Wagner. "Tom was an exceptional coach but an even better person. He was a great ambassador for The Crew organization. Our condolences go out to Debi and his family. He will be greatly missed."
Fitzgerald joined The Crew as an assistant coach in the inaugural MLS season in 1996 and was named Interim Head Coach with 10 games remaining in the season. He was elevated to Head Coach at the end of the 1996 season after leading the Black & Gold to a 9-1 record and a spot in the playoffs. Fitzgerald guided Columbus for the next four-plus seasons (1997-2001), before being replaced after six games into the 2001 season. Fitzgerald helped build some of the best teams in Crew history, taking Columbus to three straight Eastern Conference Finals (1997-1999), and within one game of MLS Cup in 1998 and 1999. He also led Columbus to the 1998 U.S. Open Cup Finals. After leaving The Crew, Fitzgerald was named Head Coach at UCLA where he led the Bruins to the 2002 NCAA Division I National Championship. Fitzgerald left UCLA after the 2003 season to move home to Tampa to be closer to his family and return to the University of Tampa as Head Coach. He coached at Tampa from 1987-1995, leading Tampa to a NCAA Division II National Championship in 1994, prior to taking the assistant coaching position with The Crew.
Fitzgerald is survived by his wife Debi and his two sons, Shane and Jesse.
Fitzgerald's all-time coaching statistics
W L T PCT PTS OT 70 67 7 .510 195 1-0-7