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SIU Hall of Fame track coach, Lew Hartzog, dies; Also served as athletic director for three years

Saluki Media Relations
updated: 4/12/2019 2:01 PM

CARBONDALE -- The Southern Illinois University Track and Field program lost one of its all-time greats, as SIU Hall of Fame coach Lew Hartzog passed away Tuesday night at the age of 96.

Hartzog came to SIU in 1961 after three seasons as the head track and field coach at University of Louisiana-Monroe. His impact on the burgeoning Saluki program was almost immediate- in his second season, SIU won the NCAA College division title (what is now NCAA Division II) in cross country with a then-record 32 points. That spring, SIU's men's track and field team won the NAIA national championship.

Southern moved up to the University level in 1962 and Hartzog's teams didn't miss a beat. SIU finished sixth at the NCAA cross country championships that fall, and later that spring, Southern's men's track team finished fourth at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.

Hartzog's Saluki men's track and field teams never lost a MVC Championship, indoor and outdoor, from 1976 to 1984 and tallied four top-10 finishes in NCAA championship meets, four additional top 20 finishes and placed at another eight national meets. In Hartzog's final season as head coach, the Salukis finished fifth at the 1984 NCAA Outdoor Championships and came within a clean pass of the baton in the relays of a national championship.

In 1981, Hartzog added the duties of athletic director, a position he held until he retired for the first time in 1984. During his tenure, he hired his former pupil, Bill Cornell, to head up the Saluki track and field program. In 1986, Hartzog took over as SIU's golf coach, a position he held for six years before he retired for good in 1992.

During his 27 years as a head track and field coach, Hartzog was twice named the National Coach of the Year (1982, 1984), coached 67 All-Americans, 12 national champions and at least a dozen Olympians. 21 of Hartzog's former track athletes are enshrined in the Saluki Athletics Hall of Fame.

His standouts were innumerable while at Southern Illinois and included Ivory Crockett, David Lee and Bob Roggy. Crockett set a world record of 9.0 seconds in the 100-yard dash in 1974. Lee won the 400-meter hurdles at the 1980 NCAA Championships, and Roggy won an NCAA javelin title in 1978 and later set several U.S. records.

While Hartzog will be best remembered for what his teams were able to accomplish on the track, he will also be recalled as a man who stood up to racism during turbulent times.

In 1957, Hartzog began his career at Northeast Louisiana (now UL-Monroe). He built a powerhouse, but Louisiana law forbid him from competing at NCAA Championship meets because of the prevalence of African-Americans on Hartzog's team.

"With that team, as great as it was, we couldn't compete in the NCAA Championships because there were blacks," Hartzog said in 1992 of his 1957 Northeast Louisiana team. "That was the Louisiana law at the time and it bothered me a great deal, to have a bunch of kids that good and to not take them on to the national championships."

Former Saluki and Olympian Oscar Moore remembers an instance in which the Salukis were traveling through Alabama over spring break. Upon arriving at a restaurant, the owners refused to serve Moore or any of the African-American athletes on the team, but encouraged the white athletes to have a seat. Without second thought, Hartzog led his athletes out of the establishment.

In addition to being a member of the Saluki Hall of Fame, Hartzog was enshrined in the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, the Illinois Track Coaches Hall of Fame, the United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Hall of Fame as well as the MVC Hall of Fame.

A small ceremony will be held for family and the several friends he and his wife, Sally, shared. A public celebration of Lew's life will be held at Southern Illinois University in the months to follow and a specific date will be announced on when it is available.

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