NIU Athletics legend Jim McKinzie passes away

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Courtesy of NIU

Jim McKinzie was inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame three times.

By Ethan Gonzales, Assistant Sports Editor

Northern Illinois University Athletics Hall of Famer Jim McKinzie passed away peacefully at age 90 in Sterling, Illinois on Aug. 8, 2022. McKinzie was inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame three times, once as an individual in 1992 and earlier as a member of the 1951 basketball and baseball teams, according to the NIU Hall of Fame.

McKinzie was an all-around athlete during his time here at NIU. He earned eight varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball. His historic football season in 1952 where he led the NCAA College Division in receptions, yards and touchdowns won him team MVP honors.

As a basketball player, McKinzie was also named team MVP during the 1951-1952 season, according to NIU. He averaged 12.1 points per game and finished his junior year leading the team in points, assists, field goals, free throws and free throw percentage. On the baseball diamond, McKinzie played shortstop and outfield for his father, NIU Athletics Hall of Famer Ralph Mckinzie.

McKinzie also excelled as a student at NIU. He earned his bachelor’s degree in education before completing his master’s from NIU in administration. After some time serving in the US Army, he taught at Sterling High School from 1958-91. McKinzie also coached football, basketball and track. Similarly to NIU, he was inducted into the Sterling High School Hall of Fame and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Jim McKinzie is survived by his wife of 68 years Lenore and his family. He had five children, six grandchildren, one great grandchild, and three step grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Aug. 28 at the Schilling Funeral Home & Cremation, 702 1st Ave., in Sterling, Illinois. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and service to follow at 2 p.m.