Teel Time: Former UVa athletes remember Doc McCue as gentleman, friend, cowboy

Thousands of athletes sport scars from Dr. Frank McCue’s renowned surgical handiwork. Far more indelible are their memories of Doc McCue the gentleman, cowboy and friend.

“He and his wife, Miss Nancy, they treated me like a son. I never forgot that,” said Marques Hagans, a Virginia graduate assistant coach and former Cavaliers quarterback.

“The sheer number of people he helped, it’s hard to comprehend,” former Virginia tight end Chris Luzar said.

Indeed, as the athletic department’s physician from 1961-2003, McCue treated and, most important, bonded with countless young people. And when news of his death broke Sunday, tributes flowed immediately.

Not just from Cavaliers, either. McCue, 82, tended to anyone in need, Hokies included.

“I didn’t know him well,” Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer said. “But I really knew his reputation. He very much loved the University of Virginia, but the other part of it was his reputation as a fantastic doctor and fantastic surgeon. … He was good for (the entire) state of Virginia.”

Among the most memorable Virginia Tech-Virginia battles was in 1995 at Scott Stadium, when Cavaliers trainer Joe Gieck stuck out his leg as Hokies defensive back Antonio Banks raced down the sideline with an interception for the decisive touchdown.

McCue admonished Gieck, his old friend, for feigning to trip one of his patients. Turns out McCue had treated Banks when Banks played at Newport News’ Warwick High.

“I think he operated on everyone in my family and all my (assistant) coaches,” Hampton High coach Mike Smith said with a laugh. “He was a pioneer. Back in the old days, when (an injury) was major, they'd ship them up to Doc McCue. …

“Not just Virginia kids, all the kids. Virginia Tech and Virginia might have been enemies, but not to Doc McCue.”

Dedicated in 1991, the McCue Center houses Virginia’s football and administrative offices. McCue’s office was in the training room, drawing him even closer to the athletes as they arrived for taping and/or treatment.

Hagans, who played for Smith at Hampton, said McCue never failed to ask about his family and his academics. And just last week, the McCues sent Hagans and his wife, Lauren, a gift for their 14-week-old son, Christopher.

Three summers ago, Hagans caught a stray elbow during a pick-up basketball game at Virginia. Blood streaming from above his eye, Hagans knew whom to call.

“He said, ‘Meet me at the McCue Center, and I’ll stitch you up,’” Hagans said.

Keep in mind, McCue was in his late 70s and long retired. Still, he was quick to help.

Hagans said McCue operated on his wife’s broken nose when she was in college, and on his father’s injured hand when he was in high school. But Hagans’ enduring image of McCue is of him on his farm, catching fish and feeding cattle.

“He named one of his champion longhorns after me,” Hagans said. “That was pretty cool.”

Luzar also spent time with McCue and his cattle. So much that after graduation McCue gave him five longhorns.

Those five, and six of their offspring, remain in Luzar’s care at a hunt club near his home in Jacksonville, Fla.

“We kind of became cowboys together,” said Luzar, a graduate of Williamsburg’s Lafayette High who played two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.