ETSU Athletics mourns the loss of legendary coach Dave Walker

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Editor’s note: Legendary ETSU coach Dave Walker passed away Saturday, Jan. 11, following a long battle with health issues. The following story was published Dec. 11, 2011, upon Walker’s induction into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. ETSUBucs.com is pleased to honor Walker by republishing the story today.

East Tennessee State University head track and field/cross country coach Dave Walker was one of ten inductees to The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

Walker, who received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from ETSU, has coached 34 All-Americans during his tenure in Johnson City. Not only has Walker led the Bucs to 22 cross country conference championships and 10 track and field conference titles, but he also groomed three Olympians – Ed Leddy, Neil Cusack, and Ray Flynn.

“It is with a great deal of pleasure that I am announcing the 2012 Class of Inductees for the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame,” said Bill Emendorfer, president of the state-wide sports organization. “This year we have one of the most diverse classes of all time. It is not a typical class dominated by football players and basketball players but this year we have professionals from NASCAR, fishing, tennis and golf. Plus we have a true American War hero who has a Tennessee football background. This is truly a unique class.”

When asked about being named to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, Walker was honored and surprised to be selected.

“It was a pleasant surprise when I received the news,” said Walker. “This is quite an accomplishment and it’s an honor to be named to the Hall of Fame. There are a lot of talented people who are already in the Hall of Fame and I’m grateful to join this elite group.”

In addition to being named to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, Walker was also inducted into U.S. Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2003) and the ETSU Hall of Fame (1996).  

Walker has enjoyed a lot of success in cross country and track and field at ETSU, as he coached Neil Cusack to the 1972 NCAA Cross Country National Championship title, while his famous “Irish Brigade” team was the runner-up the same year. From 1970-83, Walker carried his cross country teams to 14 consecutive NCAA National Championship appearances, which was an NCAA record for a coach at the current time.

In terms of coaches and all-around people, Walker is one of the most well-respected individuals in the industry. Walker has received the U.S. Track Meet Directors Howard Schmertz Lifetime Achievement Award, while the NCAA Men’s South Regional Cross Country Coach of the Year honor has been named on his behalf.

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