Arizona Basketball

Holt: “Doc Hop” instrumental in helping UA land student-athletes, making them prosper



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Julius Holt

Julius Holt

By Julius Holt
Special to

I want to take this opportunity to respond to the passing of you U of A Legend, Mentor, Leader, and Hero.

We are saddened by the loss of a great man and a leader to many in the athletic department and African-American community, especially for those of us who had a direct and personal relationship with Dr. Gayle Hopkins.

Dr. Hopkins was that voice we needed at the university that is no longer present, but his blueprint remains. He taught a lot of us the number one rule about athletic politics: Don’t talk, just listen and then develop a plan to get your message across.

Doc Hopkins also encouraged many of us that were close to finishing our degree to come back and finish what we started.


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Facebook posts:

Former Arizona running back
“My good friend, mentor and father figure Dr. Hopkins was welcome home to heaven yesterday. I want to tell him again thank you and I love you, you were one of the few people at the U that care about the superstars as well as the walk ons and did everything possible to make sure they received an education.”

Longtime Arizona athletic administrator
“Such an incredibly sad week for Arizona Athletics. Just stunned with the loss of Gayle Hopkins and Tom Sanders within days of each other. RIP Gayle and Tom.”


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See, I remember Doc, because he was always my go-to guy if I had a problem. He would let me know right off the bat, “I’m all in if you did the right thing or things, but I will not defend you if you haven’t done your part.”

That didn’t mean he wasn’t in my corner. It meant, “Go fix the problem and then we will create a solution, so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.” He encouraged me to get my Master’s Degree and he nominated me for the NCAA Minority Leadership Program.

I remember when he flew to Indianapolis for my NCAA Minority Leadership graduation and told me he was very proud of where I had come from and all that I had accomplished.

I will lay witness to this, we landed some very talented student athletes, because of Gayle’s presence and words of wisdom and the confidence he gave parents and recruits when they came into his office on there official visit.


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See Doc Hopkins valued a college experience, but he also valued a college degree and he knew how important that was to student-athletes, especially student-athletes of color!

Doc Hopkins was a no-nonsense kind of guy, even when he wanted to go to lunch he knew where he wanted to go and what time he wanted to be there and he never let me pay. Every lunch visit was teaching moment.

Again, he would remind me to be a good listener and understand your opportunity might not come within U of A athletics, but your opportunity will come and you need to be ready to seize the moment. That’s what he would always say to me.

I will lay witness to this, we landed some very talented student athletes, because of Gayle’s presence and words of wisdom and the confidence he gave parents and recruits when they came into his office on there official visit.
— Julius Holt
Former Arizona football player, father of recruit Justin Holt of Salpointe

He was also inquisitive to know if you were actively involved in your kid’s life and giving them the best opportunities to compete with society and the world. He would say whatever the sacrifice make sure you provide them with a good education and that you support them in every aspect of their life. Yes, I’m sad of Doc Hopkins passing, but he gave so much to me while he was alive from his words of wisdom, encouragement, fatherly advice, sweet potato pie and how to drink a good whiskey or scotch.

Doc Hopkins is a man that deserves a special place of recognition within the University of Arizona Athletic Department, because he saved lots of lives and prevented a lot of kids from transferring and getting caught up in the streets.

I’m very aware of his athletic achievements (as an Olympic long jumper), but I am more impressed with the way he led his life and the lives he touched. I will miss you Doc Hopkins. Saying less and listening more in the competitive world is paying off and it’s working.

Thank you and God bless. Heaven has an angel that will jump through all kinds of obstacles to make life for young people better and worthwhile. I love you and will miss you.

Julius Holt is a former Arizona football player, lettering in the early 1980’s, about the time Gayle Hopkins was hired to be part of Arizona’s athletic department in which he counseled student-athletes and monitored their progress.

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