Former UAlbany Football Assistant Coach Jim Sweeney Dies At 60

While preparing for their game against Monmouth on Saturday, University of Albany football coach Greg Gattuso was also grieving the loss of a friend he had known since they were first graders together in Pittsburgh.

Jim Sweeney Cause of Death

James Sweeney, who coached the offensive line for the University at Albany’s football team for eight years while working under Gattuso, passed away on Saturday. The man was 60 years old.

Sweeney’s death was announced by the New York Jets on Sunday, but the team did not provide a cause of death. For 11 of his 16 years in the NFL, Sweeney was an offensive lineman for the New York Jets.

“Yeah, I mean 55 years of friendship and my heart breaks for his family,” Gattuso said Monday. “I know his kids very well. He’s got three older kids and two younger daughters. Everybody here at Albany, our prayers go out to Julie (his wife) and the kids right now because it’s a massive loss. It really affected, I think, our football team over the weekend and Sunday was an emotional day for all of us. He’ll be missed greatly. He was a great human being. The kids love him and miss him and the only thing I can say is, (his) five kids and a lot of prayers going out that way.”

Last year, Sweeney’s daughter Aislinn played goalkeeper for the University at Albany women’s lacrosse team, which she helped lead to the America East championship game.

jim sweeney cause of death
jim sweeney cause of death

Sweeney started with Gattuso’s first UAlbany coaching staff in 2014 and stayed with him through the 2017 season. Neither Sweeney nor UAlbany would elaborate on why Sweeney’s contract was not renewed following the 2017–18 season.

“I still have his back,” Sweeney said in December.

Sweeney said he and Gattuso first met when they attended the same Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Catholic school in an interview in 2018.

“We were in the Christmas play together,” Sweeney said. “I was Frosty the Snowman and he was one of the animals in the manger scene. I won’t tell you which one (an ox). You can guess which one.”

Both of them matured into extremely talented football players. While attending Seton LaSalle Catholic High School, they both became stars. Afterward, Sweeney enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, while Gattuso played defensive tackle for the Penn State Nittany Lions. Sweeney and Gattuo reunited when he joined Gattuso’s staff at Duquesne in 2000 and stayed there until 2002.

“You don’t realize, someone like Jim, how popular he is, too,” Gattuso said. “In a moment like this, I’ve been getting messages from our Duquesne alumni from the years he coached at Duquesne with me and the University of Pittsburgh people have been reaching out. Obviously, the Albany community has been reaching out. He was a special person and he’ll be greatly missed.”

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