Coach John McDonnell -- A Legend in His Own Time
Arkansas track and field coach John McDonnell has formed the greatest
dynasty in the history of collegiate athletics. Under McDonnell, the Razorbacks
have rewritten the record book for NCAA titles.
McDonnell has accumulated 26 National Championships (8 cross country,
12 indoor, and 6 outdoor) the most by any coach in any sport, and has established
himself as the winningest coach in the history of Division I athletics.
Arkansas is one of two schools to capture track
and field's "triple crown" in the history of the NCAA. The Razorbacks
have taken home a Cross Country National Championship eight times. They
have also not finished worse than 10th in the country since 1979. Prior
to moving to the Southeastern Conference, McDonnell's teams won 37 Southwest
Conference titles, including 17 straight Cross Country crowns.
McDonnell began his career at Arkansas in 1972 when the late George Cole,
then director of athletics, hired McDonnell from a high school coaching
position in Louisiana. He worked as the head cross country coach and assistant
track coach for six years before being named head track coach in 1978. He
made an immediate impact at Arkansas when he coached his first cross country
team to a fourth-place conference finish. This act earned him the first
of 21 District VI Coach of the Year Awards.
Born on July 2, 1938 in County Mayo, Ireland, McDonnell came to the United
States in 1964 to work as a television cameraman for the Soupy Sales Show
in New York City. He decided to attend the University of Southwestern Louisiana
and continue his running career. While at USL, he was a six-time all-American
in Cross Country and track. McDonnell was the 1966-67 AAU 3000-meter champion
and won the mile run at the 1966 British Selection Games. He is a member
of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the USL Sports Hall of Fame.
McDonnell was granted American citizenship in 1969, the same year he
graduated from USL. He is married to the former Ellen Elias of Bayonne,
N.J. They have two children -- Heather, age 17, and Sean, age 12. In his
free time, McDonnell enjoys working on his cattle ranch outside Fairland,
* Winner of 26 National Championships since 1984 (8 cross country, 12
indoor track, 6 outdoor track).
* No other coach in the history of Division I men's collegiate athletics
has won as many National Championships (26) in any sport as McDonnell. Second
on the all-time list is 17 national titles.
* His teams have won three straight National Triple
Crowns (1991-94) and four total in school history. Only one team has ever
won three straight NCAA triple crowns and no school has ever totaled four.
* Has won 12 Conference Triple Crowns since 1982.
* Has won 12 consecutive NCAA indoor track titles (1984-1992). No school
in any sport in the history of Division I athletics has won 10 consecutive
* Coached his cross country team to national titles four of the last
* Every school outdoor and indoor track record is held by a McDonnell
* Coached individuals and relay teams that currently hold six collegiate
* His 1994 Razorback team holds the distinction of winning the NCAA Cross
Country and Indoor Championships by the greatest margin in history. The
NCAA Indoor Championship team also scored the most points (94) in the 29-year
history of the championships, while the NCAA outdoor squad tallied the fifth
history point total (83) under the current scoring system.
* His 1993-94 team broke the 19-year-old record for most points scored
at a SEC Outdoor Championship when they tallied 223 points.
* Is a member of the Arkansas and Southwestern Louisiana Sports Halls
* A member of the Arkansas Hall of Honor.