Thunderbird alumnus and former CFL commissioner Doug Mitchell passes away at 83

Former UBC Thunderbird football player, community leader and philanthropist Douglas Mitchell has died at the age of 83.

Mitchell’s wife, Lois Mitchell, announced his passing in a statement on July 21. She said Mitchell died at home “suddenly and peacefully.”

“We all know Doug was an inspiration to all who knew him and we will continue to share his legacy each and every day,” she wrote.

Mitchell played football for the T-Birds from 1958 to 1959. In 1960, he started his professional career with the BC Lions while enrolled as a student at UBC. He graduated in 1962 with a bachelor of laws and later served as the commissioner of the CFL.

Mitchell’s passion for sports was present on and off the field. In 1993, he founded the Lois and Doug Mitchell U Sports Athletes of the Year Awards to bring higher recognition to Canadian university athletes. The award gives each year’s top male and female athletes $10,000 in scholarships to attend graduate school.

Mitchell supported UBC’s student-athletes by providing better access to education and sporting facilities. His donation to the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre allowed the hosting of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The facility is now home to UBC’s men’s and women’s hockey teams.

“The UBC Thunderbirds family is mourning the significant loss of Doug Mitchell,” tweeted the T-Birds. “Doug’s leadership, generosity, and love and support of student athletes has made a lasting impact on our campus community.”

The former T-Bird’s generosity is recognized within the UBC community and countrywide. Mitchell is an Order of Canada recipient and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame last year.

UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa Ono shared his condolences in a tweet, “He was an inspiration to many and he will be greatly missed at his Alma Mater.”