COMMERCE - Ernest Hawkins, a pillar in the Commerce community and winningest football coach in Texas A&M University-Commerce history, was transported to the emergency room at Baylor University Medical Center Thursday.
Update Friday at 10 a.m. Coach Hawkins remains hospitalized and will undergo testing today at Baylor.
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Commerce ISD Superintendent Blake Cooper confirmed to KETR he had received word from Hawkins’ daughter, who works at the district, that the former lion football coach was diagnosed with West Nile virus over the weekend.
According to Cooper, Hawkins “went to Lions Club and was doing pretty good” until “something happened” Wednesday night, prompting the hospital visit.
North Texas has been the most active place for West Nile virus so far this year, with hundreds of cases reported and 10 deaths in Dallas County alone.
Those with weakened immune systems — including people with underlying medical conditions, infants and the elderly — are most at risk.
According to Cooper, Hawkins was “in pretty good health for the most part.”
As head coach of the East Texas State University football team from 1964-1985, Hawkins recorded a 132-92-6 record, including the 1972 national championship. Each year, a golf tournament bearing his name is held at Web Hill Country Club in Wolfe City. In 1988, Hawkins was inducted into the Texas A&M University-Commerce Athletic Hall of Fame and selected to the Lone Star Conference Hall of Honor in 2004.