McGown, a coaching icon in the volleyball world, led the Cougars for 13 seasons from 1990 to 2002, guiding BYU to two NCAA National Championships and twice earning National Coach of the Year honors. His 1999 team finished with a school record 30 victories, only losing one match, and claimed the school’s first men’s volleyball national championship.
In his 13 seasons at the BYU helm, McGown compiled a 205-131 (.610) record and won numerous awards. The AVCA named him the National Coach of the year in 1999 and 2001 and he was awarded the Tom Haine Memorial Award in 2000.
“Carl was a coaching icon in the volleyball community and was recognized worldwide as one of the very best teachers, strategist and innovators the sport has ever known,” BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe said. “He guided our fledgling men’s program from a club team to national prominence in the NCAA. Along the way he had a profound impact on the lives of many student-athletes. Our thoughts and prayers are with Susan and the McGown family.”
McGown led the Cougars to nine top-10 finishes in his 13 seasons and coached 17 different All-Americans who combined for 27 All-American citations. In addition, BYU lead the NCAA in regular season attendance in 1990, 1993 and 1994 and on Feb. 19, 1999, the Cougars defeated Hawai’i, 3-1, in front of 14,156 fans in the Marriott Center to set the NCAA single-match attendance record.
“Carl McGown is one of the great volleyball minds in the history of the sport,” said current BYU men’s volleyball coach Shawn Olmstead
. “His ability to analyze the game and his team’s training from a unique perspective was why coaches from around the world knocked on his door. Carl loved volleyball and he loved learning. Playing for Carl was a dream come true. He pushed us and coached us as only Carl could. He loved each one of his players through the good and bad times. The greatest life lessons I learned were with Carl away from the court. He had that kind of impact on everyone who played for him.”
Before coming to BYU, McGown was highly involved with the USA National Team. He served as head coach of the USA men's team from 1973-1976 and was later a technical advisor to Team USA in 1980. A member of the coaching staff in seven-consecutive Olympic games from 1984 to 2008, McGown helped Team USA earn three Olympic gold medals. McGown was also on the National Team coaching staff in seven different World Championships as well as numerous World University Games and the Pan American Games.
McGown was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010 and the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.
He graduated from BYU in 1963 with a degree in physical education. Following a master’s degree, McGown attended the University of Oregon where he earned his PhD in 1971. He taught at Oregon (1968-71) and University of California-Berkeley (1971-72) before joining the BYU faculty in 1972.
During his teaching and coaching career, McGown was published in a number of journals and also published several books. He and his wife Susan Hammond McGown have two sons, Christopher, who was the head of the BYU men’s volleyball team from 2012-15, and Paul. The couple also has five grandchildren.