Friend Bill Brophy says Sauer died Thursday at University Hospital in Madison after battling pancreatic cancer.
Jeff Sauer, who won 655 NCAA games over a 31-year head coaching career, has passed away at age 73. Sauer coached the Badgers from 1982 until 2002, when Mike Eaves took the reigns. It began at his alma mater, where he became head coach in 1971.
Current Wisconsin coach Tony Granato, who played four seasons under Sauer, said, "Coach Sauer's record speaks for itself, but he's just done so much besides coaching hockey". He led Colorado College to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 21 years in 1978. He also won a pair of WCHA league titles, and five WCHA playoff titles over his tenure with the Badgers.
Most recently, Sauer led the U.S. Sled Hockey team to a Paralympic World Championship in 2012 and an Olympic Gold Medal in Sochi, Russia in 2014.
Sauer thought he was done with coaching after he left the UW, but he told UWBadgers.com that the challenge to coach the sled hockey team rejuvenated him. "We didn't just lose a great coach, we lost a great man". Sauer was inducted into the UW Athletic Hall of Fame back in September.
He lived in Middleton with his wife, Jamie.