Former Boise State University head football coach Tony Knap, the school's first head coach at the four-year level of competition, passed away this past weekend at the age of 96.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Knap was hired to coach the Broncos in 1968 by then Director of Athletics Lyle Smith. Knap succeeded Smith as the head football coach after Smith stepped away from his coaching duties to devote his fulltime efforts on directing the Boise State athletic program.
Knap guided Boise State to national prominence as the school made the transition from junior college to a four-year program. He recorded an overall record of 71-19-1 at Boise State for a .786 winning percentage. His 71 wins is still the all-time record at Boise State, and his winning percentage is third behind current head coach Chris Petersen (64-5 .928%) and Dan Hawkins (53-11 .828%).
Knap guided the Broncos to three straight Big Sky Conference Championships and three straight NCAA Division II playoff appearances in 1973, 1974 and 1975. His 1971 team defeated Chico State in the Camellia Bowl.
Knap, who played football with Smith while both were attending the University of Idaho, was an inaugural member of Boise State's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982.
Following his graduation from Idaho in 1939, Knap coached in the high school ranks of Idaho and California before becoming an assistant at Utah State in 1959. In 1963 he was named the head football coach for the Aggies where he posted a four-year record of 26-12. In 1967 he was an assistant coach for the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League before coming to Boise State the next season.
Knap left Boise State in 1976 to become the head football coach at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He guided the Rebels to a 47-20-2 record in six season, the most victories of any football coach in the program's history.
In the 1975 Boise State football media guide, Knap defined a winner as "a fighter who thrives on hard work and accepts discipline with eagerness". His philosophy was "a group of men who play together as a unit, never giving up the fight, will never lose badly".
Knap lived in Pullman, Washington with his wife Mickey and recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.