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Legendary Clemson coach I.M. Ibrahim dies of heart attack
by Paul Kennedy, July 15th, 2008 9AM



Dr. I.M. Ibrahim, one of the pioneering figures during the growth of college soccer in the 1970s and 1980s, died of a heart attack while playing golf Sunday in Seneca, S.C.

Ibrahim, who was 67, started the Clemson men's soccer program in 1967 and led the Tigers to two national titles before retiring in 1994.

Ibrahim, the only Clemson coach in any sport to win two national championships, was one of the first coaches of a major program to aggressively recruit foreign players in the early 1970s, and he was later in the forefront again, recruiting some of the nation's top players when the first generation of players from the youth soccer boom came along in the early 1980s.

The first dominant Clemson team in the 1970s featured four-time ACC Player of the Year "Big Clyde" Browne and "Little Clyde" Watson, now a successful girls coach in the Washington, D.C., area. Both hailed from Guyana.

Clemson won eight consecutive ACC Championships in 1972-79, the longest run of ACC titles in any sport in Clemson history. During that time Clemson did not lose a conference match and posted a 38-0-2 record.

Ibrahim later turned to Nigeria for talent and imported such stars as Nnamdi Nwokocha and Abudarie Otorubio.

But Ibrahim soon was on the hunt for American players, beating out the growing soccer powers at Duke (John Rennie), North Carolina (Anson Dorrance), Virginia (Bruce Arena) and N.C. State (Larry Gross and then George Tarantini) for domestic talent.

Bruce Murray
played on Clemson's national championship teams in 1984 and 1987. Eric Eichmann was on the 1984 team.

Otorubio and Murray were both members of Soccer America's all-20th century team.

Ibrahim, who had a record 388-102-31 for his 28 years, was known for his fiery temper and was suspended for four games in 1994, his last year in charge of the Tigers.

He then devoted all his attention to the Tiger Sports Shop -- the successful college shop he owned in Clemson.

Ibrahim was born in Haifa, Israel, and entered the United States in 1960 to attend Shorter College in Rome, Ga. In his last two years at Shorter, he played and served as the coach of the soccer program. Upon his graduation from Shorter in 1964, he moved to Clemson, where he earned his M.S. and Ph.D in chemistry.

In 1967, he started the Clemson varsity soccer program.

Between 1972 and 1979, Clemson won eight consecutive ACC Championships, the longest run of ACC titles in any sport in Clemson history. During that time Clemson did not lose a single league match and posted a 38-0-2 record.

(A memorial service for Dr. I.M. Ibrahim will be held at the Cross Creek Plantation Clubhouse in Seneca, S.C. on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. The public is invited.)

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