Former Football Assistant, Athletics Administrator Tirrel Burton Passes Away

Jan. 18, 2017

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan Athletic Department lost one of its all-time great assistant football coaches, administrators and ambassadors with the passing of Tirrel Burton earlier today (Wednesday, Jan. 18). Burton, 87, was a long-time assistant football coach under Bo Schembechler and Gary Moeller and a life-long ambassador on behalf of the athletic department.

Burton was associate athletic director for five years, overseeing Michigan's national licensing and trademark program, after working as an assistant football coach for 22 seasons (1970-91). He also assisted in the operations of the development and alumni relations office within athletics.

Burton joined the Michigan football coaching staff as Bo Schembechler's freshmen coach in 1970 and then coached the receiving corps from 1972-80. After the 1980 season, Burton coached running backs through the 1991 season.

He graduated from Miami University in 1956 with bachelor's and master's degrees in education. Burton is a member of the Miami Sports Hall of Fame for track and football. He was an assistant coach for Central State (Ohio) in 1967 and Miami (Ohio) in 1969 before coming to Ann Arbor in 1970.

Burton is survived by his wife, Sue, and their two children: son Mark and daughter Ellen.

Visitation will be at Zion Lutheran Church on 1501 W. Liberty in Ann Arbor from 5-8 p.m. Friday (Jan. 20) and 10-11 a.m. Saturday. The funeral service will start at 11 a.m Saturday at Zion Lutheran Church.

Following are comments from friends who worked with Burton at the Michigan Athletic Department:

"Tirrel Burton was a great man, great coach and a legend. He had a great influence on my time at Michigan, both as a student-athlete and administrator. Tirrel was a part of my recruitment to the University of Michigan. He came to Louisiana on a recruiting visit and was a factor in why I chose to come to this great institution. I will never forget all that Tirrel did for me throughout my life and will cherish the fond memories of our time together. My thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Burton, Mark, Ellen and the rest of his family and friends." -- Warde Manuel, Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics

"Coach Burton was always consistent when it came to life. He was a great conduit between Bo and the players, and he never let Bo get to the players very often. Even if you didn't want to hear it, Tirrel always told you where you stood. Tirrel had a great influence on my playing career and my life after Michigan. Tirrel was very even-tempered, he always left it with a golf swing, and I will miss my times with him greatly." -- Jamie Morris, Michigan's All-Time Leading Rusher

"Tirrel was born in 1930 in my hometown of Oxford, Ohio. I had heard of him and his wife Sue, who also grew up in Oxford, but had never been introduced to them. I went to the same high school as Tirrel and saw all of these pictures of Tirrel Burton, the great track and football star. Then, I attended Miami University and walked the halls where I saw pictures of Tirrel Burton, the great football player, and Tirrel Burton, the great track athlete. And, I didn't realize how special this individual was until I came to Michigan in 1974. I was walking around campus and I heard these bells ring and asked someone "What are those bells?" The response was, "Oh, that's the Burton Tower." (Laughing) I then realized the impact that Tirrel Burton had left in Oxford, Ohio, and at the University of Michigan. Tirrel was a great friend and we had many conversations about people and relationships. I learned an awful lot from him." -- Jon Falk, Long-time Michigan Director of Equipment Operations

"Tirrel was a friend, not a coach. He was warm, smart and enjoyable to be with. His love for golf was legendary, and playing the game with him was so much fun. Tirrel will be missed by so many. He was such a great guy." -- Bruce Madej, Current Senior Advisor to Athletics/Former Associate A.D. for Media Relations

"What a fine gentleman. I will miss him and admire Tirrel always. I learned a lot from him." -- Lloyd Carr, Retired Michigan Football Coach

Burton photo

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