COLUMBIA — Curtis Jones Jr., a former MU director of football operations with several close family ties to the football program, died on Wednesday. He was 40 years old.
Jones served as director of football operations at MU from 1999 to 2000. He was also the son of former MU assistant football coach Curtis Jones and the brother of former Tiger quarterback Corby Jones. Calls to determine the cause of death were not returned Wednesday.
When he died, Jones had just begun his second year as West Virginia University's associate athletics director for academic support.
In the position, he helped operate the student services division for the university's athletics department. He also oversaw academic support for the university's football team, according to a release from the university's department of intercollegiate athletics.
"The Mountaineer athletic family is overwhelmed with sorrow at the sudden passing of Curtis Jones," West Virginia University director of athletics Oliver Luck said in the release. "In his brief time with West Virginia University, he brought passion and professionalism to his position as the head of academic support for all of our WVU student-athletes."
Previous news releases from universities where Jones used to work and the release from West Virginia University recount Jones' history. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in sociology in 1995, where he lettered four years in baseball. He earned his master's degree in journalism with an emphasis in advertising from MU in 1998.
In 1999, he replaced Mike McHugh as MU's director of football relations, according to an MU news release from that time.
Maggie Hendricks, an associate editor for USA Today and a Yahoo sports writer, remembers Jones from her time as an employee in the MU Ticket Office when she was a student. Jones helped her coordinate the tickets that football players had designated for friends and family.
"Curtis never really treated me like I was just a student," Hendricks said. "If I had questions about the football team, he was always honest and open. He was just a really nice guy and never felt like he was above talking to people who weren't football players but just students."
After serving in MU's athletics department, Jones held multiple positions in the University of Oklahoma's athletics department from 2003 to 2008. He then worked in the athletics departments at both the University of South Florida and the University of Texas before accepting a position at West Virginia University in 2012.
Jones' wife, Mary Ellen, works in West Virginia University's athletics department as the director of sports administration, according to West Virginia University's athletics directory information. Jones is also survived by his mother, Gwen, of Columbia, and his brother, Corby, and sister, Kirra.
"Curtis Jones was a close friend, a role model to our players and a true professional," WVU football coach Dana Holgorsen said in the release. "His loss will be felt by all of us in many ways."