Jim Margraff: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Coach Jim Margraff

Johns Hopkins Coach Jim Margraff

Jim Margraff, the all-time winningest football coach at Johns Hopkins who was recently named DIII National Coach of the Year, has died at the age of 58.

The sports director of Baltimore station Fox45, Bruce Cunningham, was the first to announce Margraff’s sudden passing. He reported that Margraff appeared to have died from a heart attack.

The Johns Hopkins athletic department later confirmed Margraff died at his Baltimore-area home on January 2, 2019. The school did not immediately share any details as to what caused his death.

D3Football.com, citing sources, reported that Margraff died in his sleep.

Margraff was married with three adult children. He played quarterback at Johns Hopkins before taking over as head coach in 1990.

Here’s what you need to know.


1. Jim Margraff Battled Heart Problems Years Prior to His Death

Jim Margraff had heart problems before. A Johns Hopkins profile on him in 2007 detailed his battle to stay healthy.

Margraff had to undergo open heart surgery in March 2005. Doctors went in and fixed a congenital defect in his aorta. He then had to go under the knife a second time, just four months later, to drain fluid. According to the piece, Margraff’s father suffered from the same condition and died at the young age of 48.

His wife, Alice, explained for the magazine that her husband did a lot of research prior to the surgeries. She said he was also adamant that he would not miss a moment of the upcoming football season. The piece quoted Alice as saying, “Before he was allowed to drive [after the surgery], he had my father driving him down to Hopkins because he just didn’t want to be away from things.”


2. Jim Margraff Was Honored Shortly Before His Death With the Title of National Coach of the Year

Jim Margraff was awarded the title of National Coach of the Year by D3Football.com in December 2018. It was his first national award.

According to his bio on the Johns Hopkins website, Margraff’s other coaching accolades include being named Centennial Conference Coach of the Year four times. He won that honor in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2016. Margraff was also recognized by the American Football Coaches Association three times as Region 2 Coach of the Year in 2011, 2014 and 2016.

Prior to his death, Margraff was nominated for the American Football Coaches Association’s National Coach of the Year award. He was named as one of five winners in January 2019.


3. Jim Margraff Coached 29 Seasons at Johns Hopkins & Was Credited For Transforming it Into a Winning Program

Jim Margraff is credited with turning Johns Hopkins into a winning football program. Before he took over, the team had not had a winning season in five years. The team had won just 2 of its previous 20 games and had never qualified for the post-season before. Margraff became head coach in 1990 and changed all of that.

Margraff has the best record of any football coach in Johns Hopkins University’s history. According to the school’s website, he amassed a record of 209-87-3 in 28 seasons. The team went 12-2 in the 2018 season, bringing Margraff’s total wins to 221 in 29 seasons.

Magraff earned the title of winningest football coach ever at Johns Hopkins during the 2001 season. The Blue Jays defeated Washington & Lee by 31 points on September 8, 2001; the victory gave Margraff his 61st win as head coach.

Margraff is credited with leading the football team to 13 Centennial Conference titles, nine appearances in the NCAA Playoffs, and four ECAC titles. At least 19 of his players earned All-American honors. 29 players also became Academic All-Americans. You can read more about Margraff’s coaching accolades on the Johns Hopkins site here.

A 2014 profile in the Baltimore Sun praised Magraff for his coaching style. Former players said Coach Magraff made it a point to learn all of the incoming freshman players’ first names in order to make them feel welcome to the program. He also did not berate or yell at players. Magraff explained for the article, “I’ve just found that I’m more effective and people learn more when I talk to them and teach them.”


4. Jim Margraff Was a Starting Quarterback at Johns Hopkins & Was Inducted Into the School’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997

Jim Margraff was part of the Johns Hopkins graduating class of 1982. He set several records as a four-year starting quarterback.

According to Johns Hopkins, Margraff’s “ranked as the Blue Jays’ all-time statistical leader in pass attempts, pass completions, passing yardage and touchdown passes when he concluded his career.” He was recognized for that athletic prowess when he was inducted into the Johns Hopkins Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

After graduating college, Margraff decided to pursue coaching as a career. He got his feet wet coaching the quarterbacks at his alma mater. After one year, he moved back to his hometown of Miller Place on Long Island to coach high school. In 1985, Margraff was hired to coach the offensive line at the University at Albany. He followed that with stints at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Rochester and Columbia before returning to Johns Hopkins in 1990.


5. Margraff Leaves Behind a Wife & Three Children

Jim Margraff was married to fellow athlete Alice Margraff. She played field hockey, lacrosse and squash when she was a student and graduated in 1989. She followed her husband into the Johns Hopkins Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. Alice is now part of the Hall of Fame committee. She previously served as the President of Blue Jays Unlimited, which raises money for Hopkins athletics.

The couple has three children. Their oldest, Megan, is 23 and also a Johns Hopkins graduate. James, 21, plays lacrosse at Rhodes College. Will, 18, is also a student at Rhodes and plays baseball.

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