JONESBORO — Bennie Ellender, who led Arkansas State to its only national football championship in 1970, died Friday, the school announced in a news release. Neither his age nor cause of death was mentioned.

JONESBORO — Bennie Ellender, who led Arkansas State to its only national football championship in 1970, died Friday, the school announced in a news release. Neither his age nor cause of death was mentioned.

Ellender was an assistant at A-State in 1962 under King Block and was elevated to head coach the following year, leading the Indians (now Red Wolves) to a 52-20-4 record in eight seasons for the highest winning percentage in school history at .711. His wins are second most in program history.

“Coach Ellender is an icon for college football and his loss will be deeply felt by the entire ASU family,” ASU athletic director Dean Lee said. “In addition to being a tremendous coach, Bennie was a first-class individual and a true gentleman in the purest sense.”

Ellender was named Southland Conference Coach of the Year in 1964, 1968, 1969 and 1970 and led the Indians to the conference title in the latter three years. In 1970, his A-State team beat Central Missouri State 38-21 in the Pecan Bowl to win the NCAA Division I small college national championship, the forerunner to the Division II championship. Ellender also was Tulane’s head coach from 1971-75.

“Everyone who ever played or coached for Bennie Ellender loved him,” said Bill Templeton, the A-State director of major gifts who was an assistant under Ellender from 1965-70. “We are all going to miss him. He is an icon of ASU football and he was a great man.”

Funeral services are set for Wednesday with a visitation period at 1 p.m. and the memorial at 2 p.m. at the Garden of Memories Funeral Home in Metairie, La.

A-State also announced Friday that Highland (Kan.) Community College defensive end Lawrence Cayou has signed with the Red Wolves and will be eligible to practice with the team during spring camp. Cayou will have two years of eligibility remaining.