RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University Head Baseball Coach Paul Keyes passed away early Saturday afternoon after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 50 years old.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of a tremendous human being," said VCU Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin. "Paul was an outstanding baseball coach and an even better husband, father, friend and man. The VCU Department of Athletics and the entire campus community will keep Trisha and the Keyes family in our thoughts and prayers during their time of grieving.

"Our baseball program is in very capable hands with Coach Shawn Stiffler and the rest of the staff. We will move forward the way Coach Keyes would want and contend for conference championships. His impact will continue to be felt on the VCU Baseball program for years to come."

The Rams' all-time winningest coach with 603 career victories, Keyes spent 18 seasons at the helm of VCU's baseball program. During his tenure as head coach, he led the Black and Gold to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and five Colonial Athletic Association championships. He was also a four-time CAA Coach of the Year.

"This is obviously a very sad day for this program, VCU Athletics and the entire college baseball community. Paul was a tremendous coach, mentor, friend, husband and father. His impact on this program will be felt every day for years to come because of the many lives he touched. So many of us are very blessed to have been able to call him Coach," said Stiffler, VCU's interim head coach and Keyes' top assistant for the past six seasons.

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After serving as an assistant coach from 1985-91, Keyes returned to VCU as head coach in 1995. He became the program's winningest coach in nine seasons when he picked up his 330th victory on May 4, 2003. Keyes elevated VCU to not only one of the best programs in the state of Virginia, but also along the East Coast, winning nearly 60 percent of its games over the last 15 years. Under his guidance, VCU boasted 12 straight winning seasons from 1996-2007 and won 40-plus games on four occasions.

Recognized as an excellent teacher, recruiter and mentor, 36 of Keyes' former players have gone on to play professional baseball, including six in the Major Leagues.

A native of Newport News, Va., he is survived by his wife, Trisha and three children, Paul Jr., MacKenzie and Kyle.

Keyes' funeral will take place at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 12 p.m. Following the funeral, a celebration of life ceremony will be held inside the Verizon Wireless Arena.

In lieu of flowers, the Keyes family requests that donations be made to the Paul Keyes Memorial Scholarship. Please make checks to "VCU Foundation" and note in the memo line "Paul Keyes Memorial Scholarship".