Coughlan Named to USTFCCCA Hall of Fame
John Coughlan
John Coughlan

Aug. 24, 2006

NORMAL, Ill. - For 23 years, former Illinois State track and field coach John Coughlan earned numerous accolades for his leadership as the Redbirds claimed 25 Missouri Valley Conference crowns. The 25-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year has earned membership to another prestigious group, as he has been voted into the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Coughlan and 11 other members of the 2006 Hall of Fame class will be inducted Dec. 12 at the USTFCCCA National Convention in San Antonio. Coughlan is also a member of the Illinois State Athletics and Drake Relays Halls of Fame, but was surprised about being named to a third hall of fame.

"It really does come as a surprise," said Coughlan. "It's unexpected and very humbling. It means a lot to me because the honor comes from a group of my peers."

When Coughlan retired from coaching in 2000, he left with more Valley championships than any other conference coach in any sport. The Redbirds dominated the Valley in the 1980s, winning eight consecutive conference titles while sweeping the cross country, indoor track and outdoor track championships. Coughlan also coached 40 student-athletes that were named NCAA All-Americans, including two-time NCAA national champion Tom Smith in the high jump (1987-88).

"We had terrific athletes and outstanding assistant coaches," Coughlan said. "For what many would call a mid-major conference, we excelled pretty well."

Prior to his illustrious career as head coach at Illinois State, Coughlan was a highly successful prep coach at Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Ill. He was named the National High School Coach of the Year and Midwest Coach of the Year in 1977 and was also tabbed Illinois Prep Coach of the Year three times (1970, 1976, 1977).

Joining Coughlan in this year's USTFCCCA Hall of Fame Class are Bill Bergan (Iowa State), Al Carius (North Central), DeLoss Dodds (Kansas State), Bob Groseclose (Northeast Louisiana), Tom Heinonen (Oregon), Don Hood Sr. (Abilene Christian), Ted McLaughlin (Southern Methodist University), Bill Moultrie (Howard), Jack Pyrah (Villanova), Deb Vercauteren (Wisconsin Oshkosh) and Gary Wieneke (Illinois).

For more information on this year's inductees, see www.ustfccca.org.