Rey Dempsey
Biographical details
Born (1936-09-20) September 20, 1936 (age 85)
East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1958–1960Hopewell HS (PA) (assistant)
1961–1964East Palestine HS (OH)
1965–1970Central Catholic HS (OH)
1971–1972Bowling Green (OL)
1973–1974Youngstown State
1975Detroit Lions (ST)
1976–1983Southern Illinois
1984–1985Memphis State
Head coaching record
Overall73–57–3 (college)
54–43–3 (high school)
Tournaments0–1 (NCAA D-II playoffs)
3–0 (NCAA D-I-AA playoffs)
Accomplishments and honors
1 NCAA Division I-AA (1983)
AFCA NCAA Division I-AA Coach of the Year (1983)

Rey Dempsey (born September 20, 1936) is a former American football coach. He served as the head football coach at Youngstown State University from 1973 to 1974, Southern Illinois University from 1976 to 1983, and Memphis State University—now known as the University of Memphis—from 1984 to 1985, compiling a career college football record of 73–57–3. In 1975, he was a special teams coach for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). In 1983, his Southern Illinois team went 13–1, the best record in school history, winning the 1983 NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship Game.

Early life and playing career

Dempsey was born in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in nearby Pitcairn. In high school, he captained his school's football, basketball, and baseball team. His football coach was Chuck Klausing, who later served as head football coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University and was an assistant coach at the University of West Virginia and the University of Pittsburgh.

Dempsey attended Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. There he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball. He played quarterback on the Geneva Golden Tornadoes football team under head coach Byron E. Morgan.[1]

Coaching career

High school and Bowling Green

Dempsey began his coaching career as an assistant football coach at Hopewell High School in Hopewell Township in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. There we he worked for three years under Bill McDonald, who later served as head coach at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. In 1960, Dempsey got his first head coaching job, at East Palestine High School in East Palestine, Ohio. His record there was 21–18–1 in four seasons. Dempsey moved on to Central Catholic High School, in Perry Township, Stark County, Ohio near Canton, in 1965. His record was 33–25–2 in six seasons at Central Catholic. His 1970 team shut out eight of their ten opponents. Dempsey then moved to the college ranks, working as an assistant football coach at Bowling Green State University in 1971 and 1972. He coached the offensive line under head coach Don Nehlen.[1]

Youngstown State

Dempsey was appointed as head football coach at Youngstown State University in January 1973.[2] He succeeded Dike Beede, who helmed the Youngstown State Penguins football program from its inception in 1938 until his retirement following the 1972 season. Beede died in drowning accident in December 1972.[3] Dempsey was selected for the Youngtown State post over two other finalists: Bo Rein, who later served as head coach at North Carolina State University, from 1976 to 1979, and Bob Commings, who was the head coach at the University of Iowa from 1974 to 1978.[1]

Southern Illinois

Dempsey was the 14th head football coach at Southern Illinois University and he held that position for eight seasons, from 1976 until 1983. In his final season, the Salukis won the Division I-AA (now FCS) national championship.[4][5] His overall coaching record at Southern Illinois was 54–37. This ranks him third at Southern Illinois in total wins and second in winning percentage.[6]

Memphis State

At Memphis State in Division I-A for the 1984 and 1985 seasons, Dempsey's teams went a combined 7–12–3.

Personal life

From 1991 to 2002, Dempsey served as Senior Pastor of Christ the King Church.[citation needed] Dempsey now[when?] works alongside Mike Gottfried with the Team Focus program, a leadership camp for fatherless boys. He has been involved in the program since its founding in 2000 and continues to act as the camp pastor and director of spiritual development, providing lectures and sermons.[7]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs NCAA#
Youngstown State Penguins (NCAA Division II independent) (1973–1974)
1973 Youngstown State 4–6
1974 Youngstown State 8–2 L NCAA Division II Quarterfinal
Youngstown State: 12–8
Southern Illinois Salukis (NCAA Division I independent) (1976)
1976 Southern Illinois 7–4
Southern Illinois Salukis (Missouri Valley Conference) (1977–1983)
1977 Southern Illinois 3–8 0–5 7th
1978 Southern Illinois 7–4 3–2 3rd
1979 Southern Illinois 8–3 4–1 2nd
1980 Southern Illinois 3–8 1–5 7th
1981 Southern Illinois 7–4 5–2 3rd
1982 Southern Illinois 6–5 4–1 T–2nd
1983 Southern Illinois 13–1 4–1 2nd W NCAA Division I-AA Championship 1
Southern Illinois: 54–37 21–17
Memphis State Tigers (NCAA Division I-A Independent) (1984–1985)
1984 Memphis State 5–5–1
1985 Memphis State 2–7–2
Memphis State: 7–12–3
Total: 73–57–3
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ a b c Mollica, Pete (January 23, 1973). "Dempsey new YSU grid coach". New Castle News. New Castle, Pennsylvania. p. 15. Retrieved January 2, 2017 – via open access.
  2. ^ "Dempsey Named New Menton". El Paso Herald-Post. El Paso, Texas. United Press International. January 10, 1973. p. 15. Retrieved January 3, 2017 – via open access.
  3. ^ "'Dike' Beeded Found Dead". Raleigh Register. Beckley, West Virginia. United Press International. December 14, 1972. p. 17. Retrieved January 3, 2017 – via open access.
  4. ^ Monserud, Scott (December 18, 1983). "Salukis crush W. Carolina". The Southern Illinoisan. Carbondale, Illinois. p. 17. Retrieved May 8, 2019 – via
  5. ^ Monserud, Scott (December 18, 1983). "Salukis win national championship (cont'd)". The Southern Illinoisan. Carbondale, Illinois. p. 18. Retrieved May 8, 2019 – via
  6. ^ "Southern Illinois Coaching Records". Archived from the original on 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  7. ^ Archived July 28, 2011, at