The College of Idaho loses a legend

The College of Idaho lost one of its most beloved alumni when R.C. Owens passed away June 17. Owens was a pioneering star athlete at the College who went on to NFL fame with the San Francisco 49ers. He was 78 years old.

Owens was a three-sport star at the C of I, excelling in football, basketball and track. He also was a part of the cheerleading squad when an injury kept him out of his senior football season. On the basketball court, Owens notched a double-double in every game he ever played, led the nation in rebounding and was part of the famous 1954-55 team alongside future NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor.

After college, Owens was drafted by both the 49ers and the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBA. He chose to play pro football and became famous for his "Alley-Oop" catches, where he would use his 6-foot-3 frame and famed leaping ability to soar above defenders for game-winning catches. The term "Alley-Oop" later became widely used for the lob pass-slam dunk play in basketball. Owens is a member of several sports hall of fames, including The College of Idaho Hall of Fame and the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame.

When his playing career was over, Owens joined the 49ers front office. He served as director of training camp and, later, alumni relations. Owens is survived by his wife, Susan. The C of I extends its heartfelt condolences to the Owens family.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including six Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit