Former Vermont coach Cross dies at 82 from COVID-19 complications

Jim Cross coached UVM from 1965 to 1984 (photo: Vermont Athletics).

Jim Cross, who coached the Vermont men’s hockey team from 1965 to 1984, died Saturday from complications related to COVID-19.

He was 82.

Cross guided the Catamounts to three ECAC Division II championships and oversaw the program’s transition to Division I in 1974.

“Jim Cross’ contributions to the University and our athletic program were immense,” said Vermont director of athletics Jeff Schulman in a statement. “Jim took over a fledgling UVM hockey program and turned it into a national power that was defined by class, integrity and competitive excellence. In doing so, he and his teams ignited a passion for UVM hockey on campus and in the community, that remains at the core of our program to this day. Jim was revered by his players and colleagues and will always be remembered among UVM’s greatest and most impactful coaches. All of us send our love and well wishes to Jim’s wife Lorna, his family, friends, and former players.”

Cross arrived in Burlington, Vt., in 1961 as director of physical education for Lyman C. Hunt School where he remained until 1965 when he accepted a position as UVM’s assistant hockey coach, which turned into the head coaching job the following season. Cross led the Catamounts for the next nine seasons in ECAC Division II hockey, culminating in back-to-back ECAC championships in 1973 and 1974. In the back-to-back title years, Cross’ conference record was a remarkable 37-1. Following the 1974 championship he was honored as the national Division II coach of the year.

Vermont moved to Division I competition for the 1974-75 season, as Cross guided the “Cinderella Catamounts” to a third-place finish in the ECAC standings and a third-place finish in the ECAC playoffs. After overseeing the Catamounts remarkable transition, he was named ECAC East Division Coach of the Year.

Over his 19 years coaching at UVM, Cross compiled a 280-251-9 record. After stepping down, Cross was presented the Schaeffer Pen Award by the New England Hockey Writers Association for his contributions to college hockey.

At Vermont, Cross was also the head varsity golf coach for 10 years and interim baseball coach in 1968.

A 1960 graduate of Boston University, Cross played 32 games over two seasons with the Terriers from 1958 to 1960.

In 1996, Cross was inducted into the University of Vermont Athletic Hall of Fame. The American Hockey Coaches Association named Cross its John MacInnes Award winner in 2001. Last February, the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation named Cross its 2019 “Legend of College Hockey” recipient.

Cross will be formally inducted later this year into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame as a part of its 2020 class.