Mike Warren, an active member of the Santa Barbara athletic community following a standout career as a high school and college football coach, died early Sunday of an apparent heart attack at his Goleta home. He was 76.
“I’m in shock,” said Gary Cunningham. “We lost a great one.”
Warren and Cunningham were fellow board members of the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table. They developed a close friendship after each had retired from athletic directorships — Cunningham at UCSB and Warren at SBCC.
“We’d get together every week,” Cunningham said. “He took me to high school football games. I took him to the Final Four. We were like brothers.”
Warren, a 1967 graduate of UCSB, where he was a linebacker on the Gaucho football team, made his mark as a coach at Carpinteria and Lompoc High Schools. He compiled a record of 128 wins, 34 losses, and four ties in 14 seasons. His last 13 teams went to the postseason playoffs, including four CIF finals appearances with the Lompoc Braves. During a brief revival of UCSB’s football program in the 1980s, Warren took up the challenge of coaching the Gauchos and had a winning record in four seasons against teams in the NAIA and NCAA Divisions II and III.
After working in the private sector, Warren became executive director of the Elings Park Foundation in 2003. Three years later, he took over as athletic director at City College, retiring in 2010.