Kidd won 2 titles, finished second twice at EKU

Published 11:21 am Tuesday, September 12, 2023


College football has lost one of its all-time legends, and Eastern Kentucky University one of its most beloved and accomplished sons.

Roy Kidd passed away today, Sept. 12, 2023, at 91 years old.

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Coach Kidd was born in Corbin on Dec. 4, 1931. He was the youngest of seven children and the third son of Edd and Pearl Bradford Kidd. Services for Coach Kidd will be held at the EKU Center for the Arts with Bill Fort officiating. A private burial will follow in the Richmond Cemetery. Dates and times of the services will be announced.

Kidd was the EKU football coach from 1964 to 2002, where he led his alma mater to two national I-AA championships and two runner-up finishes, 16 Ohio Valley Conference titles and 314 wins, earning induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The Corbin native was a three-sport star at Corbin High School and went on to a standout career at EKU, where he was a record-setting Little All-American quarterback for the football team and a stalwart center fielder who exceeded .300 in each of his baseball seasons. After one year as assistant basketball and head baseball coach at Madison Central High School in Richmond, Coach Kidd moved across town and led the Madison-Model high school football team to a 54-11-1 mark from 1956 to 1961.

After a year as an assistant football coach at Morehead State University, he returned to EKU, where he served one year as an assistant football coach before beginning a 39-year reign of consistent excellence that few in the history of the sport have matched. In addition to a sterling record of 315-124-8 and two I-AA national titles (1979 and 1982) that book-ended runner-up finishes, Coach Kidd led the Colonels to 25 consecutive winning seasons and 17 NCAA I-AA playoff appearances, twice winning NCAA Division I-AA National Coach of the Year honors. He coached 55 All-Americans, and 41 of his players went on to sign NFL contracts. In January 2023, he received the American Football Coaches Association’s Amos Alonzo Stagg Award, which honors those “whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football.”

Besides becoming one of the sport’s winningest coaches, establishing EKU as a national football powerhouse and bringing national acclaim to the university, Coach Kidd is revered by his former players as a stern and demanding coach, but also as a thoughtful and compassionate mentor who cared about their personal growth and success, even well beyond their playing days.

All-American tight end Jason Dunn, a second-round draft choice who played 11 years in the NFL, said Coach Kidd and his assistants “taught us how to work hard, be hungry, passionate and confident and, above all, competitive.” Tuck Woolum, the quarterback on the 1982 national championship team, said Coach Kidd “had the knack of finding someone who may be a little smaller or slower and develop them. He just made us all believe. We weren’t the most talented team, especially in 1982, but we believed we were the best team ever.”   

Coach Kidd was nationally respected throughout the coaching profession, even by those who found themselves on the opposite sideline. One of those was Jack Harbaugh, who helmed rival Western Kentucky University from 1989 to 2002. “By the time Roy Kidd retired in 2002, he had made me a better football coach and left football a better game,” Harbaugh said.

Ever and fiercely loyal to his alma mater, Coach Kidd worked part time for the EKU Development Office after retirement, continuing to rally support for an institution he dearly loved. His pride in Eastern was always palpable. “I want our people to have pride in this place, work hard to make it nice, get a good education, be a good person when you go out in the world and treat others the way you want to be treated,” Coach Kidd once said. “My job was to win games and to make our players good people when they go out in the world.”    

Bearing testimony to Coach Kidd’s immeasurable impact on the university and the lives of so many student-athletes, the EKU football stadium is named Roy Kidd Stadium in his honor; the street in front of the stadium was renamed Roy and Sue Kidd Way; and a statue of the legendary coach and a wall honoring players, staff and managers is located in the north end zone. A street in front of Corbin High School’s football stadium is also named in his honor. Coach Kidd is also a member of the EKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni, the EKU Athletics Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, the OVC Hall of Fame and the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame.

Additionally, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s highest football award, given to the best high school football player in the state each season, is named the Roy Kidd Award, and the Roy Kidd OVC Coach of the Year Award is presented annually.

Coach Kidd is survived by his wife of 62 years, Susan ‘Sue’ Purcell Kidd; their three children, Marc Kidd (Amy Luyster) of Plano, Texas, Kathy Kuhl (Lewis) of Miami, Florida, and Keith Kidd (Laura Estepp), Richmond, Kentucky; six grandchildren, Seth Kidd (Mehgan), Evan Kuhl (Ana), Samantha Kidd Shelton (Tyler), Nicholas Kuhl, Kirsten Kuhl and Kody Kidd; and four great-grandchildren, Penelope Kidd, Lucia Kuhl, Otto Shelton and Clementine Kidd along with numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Edd and Pearl; two brothers, Earl Kidd and Ray Kidd and four sisters, Evelyn Kidd Marcum, Mildred Kidd Kist, Margaret Kidd and Edwina ‘Snookie’ Kidd.

In lieu of flowers the family ask that donations be made in his honor to the Roy and Sue Kidd Endowed Scholarship at Eastern Kentucky University. Checks can be mailed to the EKU Foundation, CPO 19, 521 Lancaster Ave, Richmond, KY 40475. Online gifts can be made at