Nittany Lion Men¡¯s Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Harry Groves Set to Retire at Season¡¯s End
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A five-time Coach of the Year, Groves not only one of the most respected coaches in the NCAA, but is widely considered one of the legends of international coaching as well. So impressive are his accolades that he was inducted into the United States Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001.
"Harry Groves has been the heart and soul of our men's track and cross country programs for over three decades,¡± said Penn State Director of Athletics Tim Curley. ¡°He has coached world class athletes and represented Penn State in the track and field community on an international level. But more importantly, he has touched the lives of countless student-athletes who are better off now for having been an athlete for Coach Groves. His retirement is a great loss for Penn State, but we could not be happier for him as he leaves such a proud and rich legacy behind here in Happy Valley."
Groves' career won-loss record as of January 1, 2006, for dual meets is 889-180-3 (.836 winning percentage), including his tenure at William & Mary, where he coached 13 years before coming to Penn State in the fall of 1968. At Penn State, this breaks down to 218-46-1 (.826) for indoor meets, 166-20-1 (.890) outdoors and 283-49-1 (.852) in cross country. His Penn State record is 667-115-3 (.854) combined for the three sports.
In addition, Groves' teams have excelled in hundreds of invitationals and championship meets, won 10 coveted ICAAAA titles ¡ª outdoors in 1974, 1986, 1987 and 1988; indoors in 1984, 1987, 2000, 2003 and 2006; and in cross country in 2000 ¡ª and had several top three finishes since 1968 in all three phases of the sport, before entering the Big Ten Conference in 1991-92. The IC4A has a 104 team membership and is the oldest athletic organization in the world in any sport.
The cross country team was fourth in 1991 and third in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 2000 and fifth in 1996 at the Big Ten Championships.
Of the 22 NCAA cross country qualifying teams he¡¯s coached, all but two placed 15th or better with a high of third in the 1979 and 1980 meets and fourth in 1975 and 1978. His 1994 squad finished eighth. Since the initiation in 1978 of the NCAA regional cross country qualifying meets, Penn State has won eight Region II team titles.
While his accolades help define his coaching prowess, it is the effect he has had on the hundreds of individuals lucky enough to have competed for him or coached with him that will define his true legacy.
¡°Since 1968, I have seen Coach Groves work with student-athletes of all levels - high school stars, college stars, national and international athletes, and college walk-ons,¡± said Greg Fredericks, who competed for Groves in the ¡®70s and broke the American record in the 10,000 meters in 1972 as a Nittany Lion. ¡°He coached them all the same; to run faster, jump higher and throw further. And they did. This made them better athletes. But he also coached them to work hard, respect your opponent, care for your teammates, study and be the best you can be. This made them better people.¡±
¡°I am proud to say that I have known Coach Groves for over 35 years,¡± said Bill Whitaker, a long-time assistant coach with Groves at Penn State. ¡°I was his assistant coach for 17 years and was honored to give his induction speech to the United States Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Harry is a legend in cross country and track and field. He has dedicated his life to the sport. I know of no one who has contributed more to his life long passion at the local level, at the national level and, most of all, at Penn State University.¡±
A middle distance runner at Temple, Groves joined the William & Mary staff in 1955 as an assistant in cross country and track. He took over the head coaching position in 1956 and held it until moving to Penn State in 1968. He has guided the Nittany Lion program to success for more than three decades and earned a position among the most respected and recognizable figures in track and field coaching. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of the USATF Men¡¯s Committee and is the chairman of the U.S. Junior program.
Groves has been on the coaching staff of 12 U.S. Track and Field teams, helping to guide them in international competitions in locales such as Russia, Iran, Spain, Australia, Germany and Sweden. He served as the assistant head coach for the 1992 Olympic team in Barcelona, Spain and has held five U.S. Track head coaching positions. Groves guided the 1989 World Cup team and the 1995 World Championship team that brought home the gold.
Respected nationally, Groves was National Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1975 and 1979, National Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year in 1984 and 2001 and National Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year in 1986. He has also been named Regional Coach of the Year a combined 26 times.
This weekend, Groves will be coaching at the Penn Relays for the last time. The winning team at the Penn Relays is widely considered the best in the world and Groves¡¯ 1985 relay team still holds the event record in the 4x800.
The Harry Groves File