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John McDonnell

Photo of John McDonnell

Inducted: 2005, coach

Born: July 2, 1938

John McDonnell was a soccer player growing up in Ireland when one day his brother, a track athlete, asked him to pace him one day on an 880-yard run. His brother never caught up with him, and neither will any collegiate coach. As the head coach at the University of Arkansas, McDonnell’s teams have won 41 NCAA national team titles and produced five seasons in which the Razorbacks have won the NCAA indoor and outdoor track and field national titles, and cross country crowns in the same year. His athletes have won 105 NCAA individual event championships and he has produced 161 All-Americans. Look for those numbers to increase in the coming years. Arkansas’ teams have been even more dominant at the conference level, winning 76 league championships. In the Southwest Conference, where they competed head to head with other powerful track programs like Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Houston and Baylor, McDonnell’s Razorbacks won 38 titles – 17 in cross country, 12 in indoor track and nine in outdoor track. The Razorbacks switched to the Southeastern Conference in time for the 1991 cross country meet, and league members vowed to show their strength against the Hogs. But while Tennessee, Florida, LSU and others have been strong, the Razorbacks’ dominance continued. McDonnell’s teams sent a signal to the SEC when the Hogs took the first five places for a perfect score in their first league cross country meet. Arkansas has been nearly invincible since. The Razorbacks have won 38 of a possible 42 SEC titles since joining the league, including all 14 cross country titles. McDonnell began coaching cross country at the University of Arkansas in 1972 and he assisted head track coach Ed Renfrow with the track program. When Renfrow left coaching, Razorback Athletic Director Frank Broyles promoted McDonnell in time for the 1977-78 academic year.

undergraduate: Southwestern Louisiana University (Lafayette, Louisiana)

Track & Field Coach

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