September 10, 2009
Idaho State University lost one of its greatest champions when Italo “Babe” Caccia passed away Aug. 28, just shy of his 92nd birthday.
From the beginning of his adult life, Babe was a shining example of a true Bengal. He started his lifelong relationship with Idaho State University in 1936 as a member of the football team. He later went on to become the winningest coach in ISU history, leading the football team from 1952-1965.
And while he was well-known for his football career, Babe also coached the baseball team from 1967-1974, and was a wrestling coach as well. Later, he became a successful administrator — first as an assistant athletic director, then as athletic director.
Since 2002, the Southern Idaho Chapter of the National Football Foundation has presented the "Babe Caccia Scholar-Athlete Award" to an Idaho State senior at their annual banquet in Boise. In 1999, Sports Illustrated named him one of the 50 most influential sports figures ever from the state of Idaho.
ISU honored Babe by inducting him into the ISU Sports Hall of Fame and the Holt Arena Ring of Honor. The playing field at Holt Arena was named Caccia Field in 2007 in recognition of Babe's importance to ISU's tradition.
Babe was an ISU legend, not simply because of his athletic tradition, but because of the way he was an ever-present supporter, and because of the ways he helped others be the same. He touched countless lives, and his dedication to ISU and Pocatello was invaluable. Thousands of people, including me, will miss him greatly.
The dedication of Babe and others gave Idaho State University the legacy it has today, and we are grateful. They brought us to new levels, athletically and academically, and put ISU on a national level. Without Babe and other supporters, ISU wouldn't be the institution it is today.
Now, it is time for us, the next generation of friends of Idaho State University, to pave the way for ISU's future.
There is plenty we can do to both honor the legacy of our forerunners and set the pace for those who follow us. We can suggest ISU as a great choice for the high school senior seeking quality higher education. We can answer the call when a volunteer from the I Love ISU campaign asks for our contributions this month.
We can come to Homecoming events, reconnect and show how much we appreciate an ISU education. We can attend the great performances, athletic events, gallery openings and presentations and show our support for the institution and today's students. We can talk about the great programs we have at ISU with our friends and family, so they can understand what a treasure we have here in Idaho. We can all make a difference.
Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D.
President, Idaho State University