Dodds Honored by K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State Athletics announced today it will honor former Wildcat standout student-athlete, coach and athletics director DeLoss Dodds by holding an annual track and field meet named in his honor, the DeLoss Dodds Track and Field Invitational. The inaugural invitational will take place Jan. 23-24 and will be the fourth of five total home meets for the Wildcats during the 2014-15 indoor season.

Formally announced by K-State at the National Leadership Council reception on Friday, Dodds, who attended the event with his wife of 57 years, Mary Ann, spoke about his time in Manhattan and the honor.

“K-State is our home. We love you guys,” Dodds said. “We had a great time here, you grew us up…Thank you to each of you because this is really special to me. It’s humbling, it’s special and I’m very proud [to be honored].”

Dodds, who along with serving as Athletic Director from 1977-81, both competed for and coached K-State Track and Field, where he was an instrumental part in helping the men’s program gain national notoriety. As a student-athlete, Dodds was a three-time Big Eight Champion with all three titles coming in 1958. He would later take on the head men’s coaching position in 1964, where he would coach the men’s program for 12 seasons.

As coach, Dodds oversaw six Big Eight Conference Championship teams – four in cross country and two in indoor track and field. His cross country squads placed among the top-10 at the NCAA Championships a total of three times, while his men’s teams combined for five top-10 national appearances – four in indoor and one in outdoor competition. His athletes experienced considerable success under his watch, combining, individually, for 10 national titles, 51 conference titles and 27 All-American certificates.

Most notably, Dodds coached K-State greats and Olympians Conrad Nightingale, Jerome Howe and Ken Swenson.

He would also serve as K-State’s athletic director from 1977-81 before taking the same post at Texas.

Head track and field coach Cliff Rovelto, who also spoke at Friday’s event, said the honoring of Dodds was an appropriate one.

“He was probably the first coach, not to take anything away from anyone else, but you look back in our history and he was the first coach to really produce championship-caliber teams and tremendously high-level athletes,” Rovelto said. “He laid the foundation, if you will, for high-level performance [at K-State]. As an athletic director, arguably one of the most influential in the country, he always remained loyal to our sport and backed us up in times of need and was always a spokesman for our sport. The Big 12 Conference has become a great track conference and I think a lot of that is because of people like DeLoss that supported our sport.

“We’ve honored Ward Haylett, who is in the track and field coaches hall of fame, we’ve had an outdoor meet competition named after him for many, many years and I just think it is appropriate. DeLoss is a hall-of-fame coach, [K-State] has had three of them, Steve Miller is in the hall of fame. And our track tradition, in terms of the quality of coaching and some of the accomplishments of their athletes are very good, and I think it’s very appropriate we honor him going forward.”

Rovelto, who is entering his 27th season overall with the Wildcats, also shared an anecdote highlighting that Dodds has not only had considerable impact on the K-State track and field program, but on Rovelto’s personal career as well.

“Back when I was a student-assistant coach as an undergrad at Kansas we were hosting the cross country championship at the Lawrence Country Club. The night before, I’m doing what you can imagine a student-assistant to be doing, getting the course ready for the next day, and DeLoss is standing over by the starting line,” Rovelto said. “It was a little chilly and he had a trench coat on and was smoking a cigar. I recognized who he was, never met him and didn’t know much about him, but I just happened to walk by working on something and he said, ‘What are you up to?’ Anyway, he engaged in conversation and really showed interest in what I was interested in doing.

“I told him I was thinking about doing coaching and to this day, I remember that conversation vividly. It had a really big impact on me that a guy like him, who was a hall-of-fame coach, would take the time to talk to some kid he didn’t know about coaching – it was pretty cool.”  

For his contributions to the sport of track and field, Dodds has been enshrined in the Drake Relays Coaches Hall of Fame in 1989, the Kansas State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.

Following his time at Kansas State, Dodds became the sixth men’s athletic director at the University of Texas, where he held the position from 1981-2013. Under Dodds’ leadership, Longhorn teams won 14 NCAA Championships and 108 conference titles from 1981 until his retirement in 2013. He was named the 2002 and 2005 Under Armor Athletic Director of the Year and was the 2011 Sports Business Journal Athletic Director of the Year.

Along with the reception held on Friday, Dodds will again be honored at the K-State Football game Saturday night, where the Wildcats will face off against Texas Tech at 6 p.m.