NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Thursday afternoon the establishment of the Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame, with ACU’s Billy Olson and Bobby Morrow both being part of the inaugural class. As collegiate athletes, the group of 30 inductees compiled 205 national individual titles, 99 world records, and 19 Olympic gold medals.
“The Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame is intended to acknowledge the great athletes who have made collegiate track and field and cross country such incredible sports,” USTFCCCA CEO Sam Seemes said. “Our goal is to capsule into the past. We want to immortalize the incredible moments, accomplishments and milestones that have defined our sports while also providing necessary context that resonates to present and future generations.”
The inaugural induction presentation will take place at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene, Ore., at 7:30 p.m., Pacific, on Monday, June 6. The onsite event will be free and open to the public and can also be accessed worldwide via YouTube live webcast.
The induction will precede the 100th edition of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships which will be held at Hayward Field, June 8-11. ESPN’s John Anderson will host the two-hour event that will celebrate the inducted athletes with a look back at their collegiate careers via video tributes, roundtable panel discussions, and special guest appearances.
A three-time champion at the 1956 Olympic Games, Morrow was often called “the greatest sprinter of all time” and “the world’s fastest human.” At age 21 as an ACU junior, he became the first person since Jesse Owens in 1936 to win three Olympic gold medals in track and field when he won the 100 meters and 200 meters, and anchored the winning 400-meter relay team for the U.S. in Melbourne, Australia.
Morrow appeared on the front covers of Life, Sport, Track and Field News and other magazines and won the James E. Sullivan Memorial Trophy from the AAU in 1957 as the outstanding amateur athlete in the U.S. He also was named Athlete of the Year by Sport magazine and by the Knute Rockne Foundation.
He won 14 titles in 100- and 200-meter races while competing for the Wildcats at NCAA Division I, NAIA and U.S. national championships. In individual sprints and as a member of Abilene Christian and U.S. relay teams, Morrow is officially credited by the IAAF with a total of 16 world records. His world records included 10.2 in the 100 meters and 20.6 in the 200 meters, with a career best of wind-aided 9.1 in the 100-yard dash.
Olson, a 1988 U.S. Olympian, was the first person to clear 19 feet indoors, and was the first American to vault 19 feet outdoors. During his stellar career, he won two U.S. Outdoor titles, three U.S. indoor championships, four straight Millrose Games titles (1983-86) and set 11 world indoor records. In 1986, he became the first Millrose Games 19-foot pole vaulter during a memorable competition with Russia’s Sergey Bubka.
Olson set 11 world indoor records in the vault from 18-8.75 in 1982 to 19-5.5 in 1986. He cleared 19-5.5 at the Vitalis Indoor Invitational in the New Jersey Meadowlands, and that mark is still third on the U.S. indoor all-time best list, and 10th on the world indoor all-time list.
Olson, who finished 12th at the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988, won a bronze medal at the 1981 World Cup in Rome; and also represented the U.S. in the IAAF World Championships, World University Games, Pan American Games and USA-USSR dual meets.
During his collegiate career for the Wildcats, he won four Lone Star Conference titles and eight NAIA national championships (indoors and outdoors all four years) in the pole vault.
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) is a non-profit professional organization representing cross country and track & field coaches of all levels. The organization represents over 11,000 coaching members encompassing 98-percent of all NCAA track & field programs (DI, DII, and DIII) and includes members representing the NAIA and NJCAA, as well as a number of state high school coaches associations. The USTFCCCA serves as an advocate for cross country and track & field coaches, providing a leadership structure to assist the needs of a diverse membership, serving as an activist for coaches’ interests, and working as a liaison between the various stakeholders in the sports of cross country and track & field.