Butch Jones and Rick Barnes react to the loss of legendary coach Ken Sparks

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – University of Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones issued a statement on Coach Sparks’ passing.

“I’m very sad to hear of the passing of Coach Ken Sparks. Coach Sparks was a close friend to myself and our football program. I had followed Ken’s coaching career from afar and our friendship really began when he was one of the first people to call me when I was hired at UT. That phone call and our talks over the years mean the world to me. He was such a pillar in this community and was always willing to help.

I think anyone who had the opportunity to be around Ken Sparks would tell you what a special human being he was. His legacy extends way beyond the game of football. He touched so many lives off the field. The players he coached, he coached them to not only win football games, but to be successful in life. I spent some time with Ken a few weeks ago at his home and will always cherish that conversation.

We lost a legend today and our thoughts and prayers go out to Carol and his family. He will be missed but always admired.

University of Tennessee Head Basketball Coach Rick Barnes also reflecting Spark’s life.

“First of all, I can’t express how incredibly thankful I am that I had the chance to really get to know and befriend Ken Sparks. The time we spent together was a blessing, and I always came away in awe of a man who was truly living for the Kingdom of the Lord.

“It’s sad to realize that, at least in this life, I don’t have any more opportunities to visit with and learn from him. But when I think about all the lives he impacted… and I think about the celebration taking place today in Heaven, it eases that sadness and evokes a sense of happiness that I was ever blessed to cross paths with such a great man.

“My sincere prayers go out to his wife, Carol, his family and everyone whose lives he touched.”

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