UT Martin men’s basketball coach Anthony Stewart dies suddenly at 50

Tennessee-Martin coach Anthony Stewart died suddenly on Sunday afternoon. He was 50. (AP/Michael Wyke)

UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart died on Sunday afternoon, the school announced. He was 50.

Stewart was preparing for his fifth season with the Skyhawks this fall. The cause of death is not yet known.

“We are stunned to hear this tragic news,” UT Martin athletic director Kurt McGuffin said in a statement. “Coach Stewart was a true leader to every one of the young men he coached. He emphasized the meaning of a college degree and instilled professionalism in each of his student-athletes. We ask for privacy during this difficult time.”

Stewart had been texting with Stadium’s Jeff Goodman earlier on Sunday morning, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The program suspended basketball activities Thursday due to a positive COVID-19 test, which ended up being a false positive. Stewart had tested negative himself last Monday, the final time he was tested.

UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart’s passing is absolutely heartwrenching. I was texting with him this morning. He said that his team had been shut down on Thursday, but then it wound up being a false COVID positive test. Was hoping his team could return to practice this week. https://t.co/krOLDYLl1X

— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) November 16, 2020

Stewart’s final tweet was one urging athletes and others to take the coronavirus seriously.

Athletics needs to change their mentality on Covid. A lot of people think getting the virus early in order to PLAY is the answer. Is that the philosophy for their own children or the philosophy for the masses and non athletes?? PREVENTION should ALWAYS be the goal#SkyhawkNation

— Anthony Stewart (@coachastew) November 15, 2020

Martin took over as the head coach with the Skyhawks in 2016 after spending two seasons as an assistant there. He led the program to 22 wins, tying the school record, in his first year at the helm and reached the Ohio Valley Conference tournament title game.

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The Akron, Ohio, native compiled a 53-73 record in his four years at UT Martin. The Skyhawks went 9-20 last season. He also served as an assistant at Long Beach State, Wyoming, Southern Illinois and Ohio before joining UT Martin.

“What I will remember most about Coach Stewart was his focus in developing our young men to be leaders in their community, leaders in the workforce and leaders in their homes,” UT Martin Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver said in a statement. “He always stressed the development of the entire person, well beyond athletics.”

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