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Central Michigan football is playing in the Mid-American Conference title game for the first time since 2009, and the Chippewas will be playing with some heavy hearts.

Don Chiodo, the veteran radio voice of Central Michigan football and men's basketball, died Wednesday afternoon from injuries suffered in a car accident.

Chiodo, 54, was driving on M-46 west of Saginaw when he collided with a semi-truck.

Word spread quickly throughout the Mount Pleasant campus and community, including text messages to Board of Trustees members, who were in town for a meeting scheduled for Thursday.

“I am truly devastated,” Michael Alford, CMU athletic director, said in a statement on Thursday. “Don was an important part of our athletics family and his passing is a great loss. Don was one of the fiercest advocates for all our programs and had a passion for telling the great stories of our student-athletes.” 

Said CMU football coach Jim McElwain: “Today we lost a true CMU Chippewa, someone who cared deeply about our program. Working with Don was a real pleasure as it was clear he had a passion for CMU and our success.

"We will all rally around his family through this tragedy and ensure they know how much Don meant to this program and university.”

Chiodo was a Warren native who attended Warren Woods-Tower High School, and he graduated from Central Michigan in 1990.

He joined the football broadcasts as a pregame and halftime host for 1996-99, and again in 2009, before he took over the play-by-play duties in 2010.

He also had previous sports-reporting and broadcasting jobs in Saginaw, Traverse City and Mount Pleasant.

On Central Michigan football and basketball, he worked alongside the likes of former Central Michigan football star Brock Gutierrez, as well as Adam Jaksa.

Late in 2018, he found himself in the headlines, after the wife of then-coach John Bonamego verbally accosted Chiodo in the press box because she didn't like a comment he made about the team on a recent postgame show. According to CM Life, the student newspaper, Paulette Bonamego was banned from the football stadium for the rest of the season after the mid-October incident, which wasn't reported until after the season, and shortly after John Bonamego had been fired as head coach.

Chiodo also hosted the weekly football coaches show, this year the "Coach Mac Show" for McElwain.

Chiodo was known for his loyal-to-the-core take on Central Michigan athletics, picking the Chippewas every year in the preseason media poll to win the MAC football championship. He gave Central Michigan its lone first-place vote this year, coming off a 1-11 season, and the Chippewas rewarded his faith by winning the MAC West. Central Michigan will play Miami (Ohio) at noon Saturday at Ford Field for the MAC title.

In a tribute to Chiodo on social media Wednesday night, Central Michigan fans took to adding a "1" to their profile names, a nod to his always picking the Chippewas first.

In his full-time job, Chiodo was a financial adviser and owner of Central Michigan Investment Services.

Chiodo is survived by wife Kimberley, and two daughters. Arrangements are pending.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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