Randy Walker, R.I.P.

Randy Walker, head coach of the Northwestern Wildcats, died last night of a heart attack. The former Miami of Ohio coach — that school has produced an amazing number of coaches, by the way, from Woody Hayes to Bo Schembechler to Ara Parseghian — had just signed a contract extension in April that would have kept him in Evanston until at least 2011. He was 52 years old.

The death is another in a bizarre string of athletic-related deaths at Northwestern. Former football player Rashidi Wheeler died on the practice field in 2001, and his mother later brought a suit against the school (and Walker). And former basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong was killed during a random hate crime spree in 1999.

Northwestern Coach Walker Dead At 52 [Chicago Tribune]

(UPDATE: There's a legitimately touching message board discussion of Walker going on at the Wildcats' Rivals.com page.)

(SECOND UPDATE: SI.com's Stuart Mandel, a Northwestern alum, has an excellent react column as well.)