Athletics News

Rice Mourns the Passing of Jim Castañeda

Nov. 3, 2008

Photo Gallery: Jim Castañeda

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UPDTATE: There will be a memorial service for Dr. Castañeda at 4 p.m. on Friday at Reckling Park

Jim Castañeda, who served Rice University for 46 years as an educator, coach and administrator, passed away last weekend.

"Everyone at Rice is shocked at the passing of Jim Castañeda," Rice Director of Athletics Chris Del Conte said. "He touched so many lives over the past 46 years. This is a loss that touches so many people, because Jim was always so giving of his time. He was a wonderful educator, and in his role in Athletics, he was a caring advocate for all our student-athletes."

"This is a great loss for Conference USA and all of intercollegiate athletics. "C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said. "A friend to all, his dedication was pure and his contribution was significant. He touched thousands of lives and we will miss him dearly."

Castañeda joined the Rice faculty in 1961 as a Spanish professor and began his association with the Athletics Department the following spring as the head freshman and assistant varsity baseball coach. In 1975 he assumed the duties as the school's representative to the Southwest Conference and the NCAA, a position he held until his passing. He also served as the coach of the Owls golf team from 1983 to 1998.

He led Rice to seven team tournament championships during his career as the Owls' golf coach. Also during his tenure, Rice had eight individual regular-season tournament champions. He coached 11 student-athletes who received a combined total of 19 Golf Coaches Association of America Academic All-America awards.

In 1986, the Rice University "R" Association named him the year's Honorary "R" Man for his dedication and service to the Rice athletic program. Castañeda was inducted to the Drew University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997 and honored with the Association of Rice Alumni's Meritorious Service Award in 2000. To top it all off, Rice established the Jim Castañeda golf scholarship in fall 2001.

Castañeda served on numerous athletic committees, often as chairman. The Golf Coaches Association of America, All-America Scholars Committee, Southwest Athletic Conference and Western Athletic Conference all benefited from his talents, and he was most recently serving as the faculty athletics representative liaison to the Conference USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In addition, Castañeda was a member of the NCAA regional postgraduate scholarship committee.

The Brooklyn, N.Y., native received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in Spanish from Drew University in 1954 and briefly played in the Baltimore Orioles' farm system after a four-year career on the Drew baseball team. He then enrolled at Yale University, where he studied romance languages and received his master's degree in 1955 and his doctorate three years later. Castañeda was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1985.

The author of five books, he was named Spanish Teacher of the Year as well as Foreign Language Teacher of the Year by the Texas Foreign Language Association. He served as president of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese and has been decorated by King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the James Castañeda Golf Scholarship, Rice University.


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