Honoring a Long Legacy

Cole Elling

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Photo by Photo submitted by UCM Athletic Department

Former Athletic Director Jerry Hughes stands next to a collection of trophies UCM has earned over his 40 year tenure. Hughes died on Jan. 21, 2023.

The legacy of former University of Central Missouri Athletic director, Jerry Hughes, 73, continues to be celebrated by the UCM campus and community. Many believe a large part of the success across all of UCM athletics and the winning mentality Hughes developed at UCM, were the relationships he built and the passion he had for every team on campus. Hughes died on Jan. 21, according to UCM’s Integrated Marketing and
Hughes’ tenure at UCM lasted four decades and he accepted numerous awards for his impact on college athletics. After graduating from UCM in 1971 with a bachelor’s in physical education and a three year letterman as a Mules Golfer; Hughes went on to spend 44 years in UCM athletics helping build one of the top Division II athletic programs in the country. During Hughes’ four decades as Athletic Director, UCM Athletics won 145 Conference Championships and 13 individual and team National Championships.
Tim Poe, Mules Head Golf Coach of 32 years, knew Hughes since the mid 1980s, when Hughes first took on the role of Athletic Director and Poe was a student-athlete. After being hired as full-time head coach in 1991, Poe said he saw the immense amount of passion and drive for greatness Hughes had envisioned for UCM Athletics.
When speaking about the multi-million dollar renovations to Mules National and UCM Golf facilities in 2015, Poe said, “None of this would have been possible without Jerry Hughes.”

The renovation of Mules National Golf Course allowed Poe to recruit players like many Division I programs, with a state- of-the-art practice facility, a university-owned and regionally-
renowned golf course.

Being a former Mules Golfer, many found Mules National and Pertle Springs were in a special place in Hughes’ heart. He also had a passion for Mules Basketball as a former coach.

Sophomore basketball player, Connor Arment, was able to hear stories about Hughes and who he was as an athlete, coach and leader following his passing. The Mules next game following Hughes’ death was at
Lincoln University on Jan. 28.
“Before the game, Coach Doug Karleskint spoke a little about Jerry’s love for the game and what he meant to the University,” Arment said. “Jerry was a big believer in a 2-3 zone defense. To honor his legacy, we played a zone defense for the first few possessions. Something we rarely ever do.”
Though UCM Athletics is still looking for ways to honor Hughes’ legacy, many teams are putting Hughes’ initials on their jerseys and gear or sharing stories with teammates about what Jerry accomplished at UCM.
Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach, Cody San Miguel is hoping one day his legacy is something we are reminded of every day as members of the UCM community.
“It can’t be something small,” San Miguel said. “It must honor the 50 years he spent at UCM, building this place into something bigger than it was before.”