The New York native held FISU’s presidential post from 1999-2011 passed away at the age of 93 on Wednesday.

George E. Killian, who presided over the international University Sport movement from 1999-2011, passed away Wednesday, December 6 at the age of 93.

The former and Honorary FISU President leaves behind a storied history of promoting University Sport and is regarded as one of the most influential leaders in FISU’s history. 

"George will be greatly missed by all of us at FISU,” current FISU President Oleg Matytsin said. “After leading three U.S. delegations to the Universiade, he first joined FISU in 1975, and later served unwaveringly as President. George was deeply committed to helping young people achieve their potential through sport. We are comforted by the knowledge that the impact of his work will continue to be felt for many years to come."

During his two-term presidential tenure, Mr. Killian oversaw 14 Summer and Winter Universiades, which corresponded with the growing influence of sport on Asian university campuses. While on Mr. Killian’s clock, FISU came to China for three Universiades (Beijing 2001 and Shenzhen 2011 Summer Universiades and Harbin 2009 Winter Universiade), with the Beijing games being the first major multi-sport event to take place in the country.

In these years, University Sport saw tremendous growth, in both the participation and professionalism of the events. A case in point: 6,009 athletes and officials took part at the 1999 Summer Universiade while the 2011 event had 10,624 participants.

Before heading FISU, Mr. Killian built an impressive legacy of sport and service. He began his University Sports career in the United States collegiate system as an athletic director and men’s basketball coach at Eerie Community College in western New York in 1954. For the next seven decades, Mr. Killian was a passionate coach, tireless promoter and effective leader in sports. 

After his captaincy on the local university campus, Mr. Killian soon became a key figure on the international sports stage. From 1990-1998, he served as both the president of FIBA and on the board of USA Basketball.

FIBA Secretary General and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member Patrick Baumann remembers Mr. Killian’s unwavering commitment and dedication to sport.

“Our personal memories of him are very strong as his FIBA Presidency falls in the early days of our involvement with FIBA,” Mr. Baumann said. “During this period, we worked closely together and continued our fruitful cooperation later when he became President of FISU.”

The Honorary FISU President was on the board of directors for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) from 1967-2004. He also was a member of the IOC from 1996-1998. In 1996, the IOC bestowed the Olympic Order on Mr. Killian; in 2010, the USOC awarded him with the Olympic Torch Award.

Killian did more than win awards, he left a mark on those he met. FISU’s CEO-Secretary General Eric Saintrond first met Mr. Killian on an inspection visit back in 1985. They worked together for 12 years as Mr. Killian was the FISU Vice-President.  Mr. Killian became the interim president of FISU after Pietro Nebiolo’s passing in 1999.  

“He was a very energetic person, a very dynamic person,” Mr. Saintrond said. “We traveled the world and he was a tireless supporter of university sports. He had this real passion for students and what sport could bring to this community. He was always with the students, on the campus or at the competitions.”

FISU extends its deepest condolences to George’s wife, Marilyn, his family and friends.

For more information:

Contact: Torin Koos


Telephone: +41 (0) 79 137 6848