Ron Mason, a college coaching legend and U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee who guided Michigan State to the NCAA national championship in 1986, died Sunday at the age of 76, the university confirmed Monday.
Mason, who was born in Blyth, Ontario, became one of the most successful coaches in American college ice hockey history, working the bench for Lake Superior State University (1966-73), Bowling Green State (1973-79) and Michigan State (1979-2002).
He won two national titles: an NAIA championship in 1972 with Lake Superior State, and an NCAA title in 1986 with Michigan State. He finished with a collegiate-record 924 wins, a mark that stood until Boston College's Jerry York won No. 925 on Dec. 29, 2012.
"I think being a part of the game is what's so important to me because it's the people in hockey that make it happen," Mason said during his U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech in 2013. "Whether it's the players, the support group or trainers, I don't think you can find a better sport."
Mason was 635-270-69 in 23 seasons with Michigan State, leading the Spartans to the NCAA tournament 19 times. He also served as athletic director at Michigan State from July 1, 2002 until Dec. 31, 2007.
Mason, who also served as a senior adviser for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League, played at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., and led the Saints to their first national championship game appearance in 1962-63.