LEXINGTON, Va. – Washington and Lee Director of Athletics Jan Hathorn has announced that Head Men's Cross Country and Assistant Men's Track & Field Coach John Tucker has decided to retire from coaching, effective immediately, and will begin phased retirement in the fall of 2013.
Tucker could remain with the University for up to four years as an Associate Professor of Physical Education.
"I want to thank John for his outstanding service to the W&L cross country and track programs over the past 24 years," said Hathorn. "John's true passion for the development of the student-athletes whom he coached, and the spirit and loyalty he displayed in all of his coaching and teaching, has been unmatched, and is a hallmark of why he has been nothing but successful in all of his endeavors here. It's a bittersweet moment for us, as we are sincere in our well wishes for John as he phases out of his duties, yet we will miss him and his enthusiasm for all things W&L. It is with heartfelt gratitude that we wish him and his family only the best as they enter this new chapter in their lives."
A 1977 graduate of Washington and Lee with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy, Tucker returned to his alma mater in 1989 to serve as head men's cross country and head women's track & field coach.
"What a privilege it has been these past 24 years, working with such outstanding students, athletes and colleagues in such a beautiful place," said Tucker. "It truly has been the best years of my life."
In cross country, Tucker guided the Generals to seven Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championships and six conference runner-up finishes. His 1995 team won the 1995 NCAA Regional Championship and advanced to the NCAA Championship field. He mentored his runners to 37 First Team All-ODAC citations, four of which were named the ODAC Runner of the Year. Six athletes were named the ODAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for cross country, while 10 athletes produced 13 NCAA Division III meet performances. For his efforts, Tucker was recognized as the ODAC Coach of the Year six times and he was recognized as the Regional Coach of the Year in 1995.
As head women's track & field coach from 1989-2003, Tucker helped W&L athletes achieve 19 individual conference championships in the indoor and outdoor seasons combined, while setting numerous school records. His 1995 team claimed the ODAC Outdoor Championship and he was named the ODAC Coach of the Year for his efforts. From 1990 until 2003, Tucker's athletes set 11 indoor and 10 outdoor school records, seven of which still stand today. He also mentored Josephine Schaeffer Covington '96, who advanced to the NCAA Division III Championships four times, garnering All-America honors in 1993.
As an undergraduate, Tucker was a four-year letterwinner and two-year captain for the Generals' track & field team. A sprinter, he was a member of ODAC champion and school-record setting relay teams in 1976 and 1977 and received the Forest Fletcher Trophy for overall excellence and sportsmanship his last two years.
An active competitor up to age 50 in various open and age group events, Tucker has won local, state and regional competitions, earned All-America honors in five different track & field events and collected four silver medals in USA Track & Field national competitions. In 2000, Tucker was the gold medalist at the USA Track & Field National Championships in the 50-54 pentathalon, which includes the long jump, javelin, 200 meters, discus and 1,500 meters.
A national search for a new head coach of men's cross country and assistant coach of men's track & field will begin shortly.