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John Griffith

Inducted: 1979, administrator

Born: - Carroll, Illinois
Deceased: December 7, 1944

Career Highlights

  • Griffith founded the Drake Relays in 1910.

Major John L. Griffith was appointed commissioner of what became known as the Big Ten Conference and for more than 20 years he helped to develop the conference into one of the finest in the U.S. A 1902 graduate of Beloit College in Wisconsin, Griffith six years later went to Drake University as athletic director, coach of the football and track team, and professor of history. In recognition of his various accomplishments, he was appointed Dean of Men in 1913. During this period, he founded the Drake Relays in 1910. The original event, held in a blizzard, attracted three universities and three high schools. Within five years, it was recognized as the third largest track and field event in the world, behind only the Penn Relays and the Olympic Games. After serving in World War I, he became head of the physical education program at the University of Illinois. While at Illinois in 1921, Griffith collaborated with famed football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg and Wisconsin track coach Tom Jones (also in the Hall of Fame) to help start the first NCAA outdoor championships. The meet was a success and formed the cornerstone for other NCAA championship events. From 1922 until his death in 1944, Griffith served as commissioner of the Big Ten Conference.

undergraduate: Beloit College (Beloit, Wisconsin), 1902

Track & field administrator

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