His health problems apparently began when he played football at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. There were no serious developments, however, until a series of tests in 1965, which led to the surgery to correct a defective valve.
Yovicsin's condition improved, but in the last two years there have been complications, stemming partly from the heavy medication he must undergo.
Near the end of October in both of the last two seasons, Yovicsin experienced specific problems and was hospitalized for a day on the first occasion. By that time, his physicians were advising him to give up coaching.
In late March this year. Yovicsin was hospitalized for eight days. His treatment involves electrical shocks which return his sometimes irregular and rapid beating to normal.
But Yovicsin said that he had medical clearance to complete one more season. He explained the apparent contradiction by saying that previous medical advice to discontinue had not specified a date Yovicsin also said that if he were to quit immediately. Harvard would not have enough time to find a suitable replacement.
"I don't feel that I'm an invalid, and my medical advisors do not feel it would jeopardize my health if I coach one more season." he explained. "It's not a matter of life or death."
A committee to select his successor has been set up, but Harvard has not yet contacted anyone about the post and will probably not announce the now coach until the early part of 1971.
Yovicsin, who came to Harvard after coaching for five years at Gettysburg, rebuilt a floundering football program here. After sub-500 records in both 1957 and 1958, Yovicsin put together winning teams for the next ten years before the 1969 disappointments.
He is tied with former coach Percy Haughton for the most wins at Harvard-71. Yovicsin was selected three times as the coach of the year in New England.
He said yesterday that his three most memorable Harvard games were the 29-29 tie with Yale in 1968 and wins in 1958 over Dartmouth and Yale. He considered those two to be the start of a winning football attitude here.
The athletic department's recommendation that required physical training be abolished was approved recently by the Faculty Council. The new program will be entirely voluntary and will emphasize instruction in lifetime sports such as tennis, golf, body-building, and running.
Yovicsin has both a bachelor's and a master's degree in physical education and was working for his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland when the move to Harvard curtailed his studies.