Architect of Badgers dynasty, Nuttycombe announces retirement


Nuttycombe

June 14, 2013

Reflections on Nuttycombe  |  Career in Photos

MADISON, Wis. -- After 30 years, 26 Big Ten Conference championships and countless contributions to his sport, Ed Nuttycombe is retiring from his position as head coach of the Wisconsin men’s track and field program.

Nuttycombe announced his retirement Friday, following the completion of his 30th season as the Badgers’ head coach.

“I just feel the time is right,” Nuttycombe said. “There is probably never a ‘good time’ to walk away from something that has meant so much to you for so long, but I’m excited about what the future holds for me and my family.”

Nuttycombe
Lucas: Wisconsin became Nuttycombe's destination
What was once thought to be a quick stay turned into three decades of dominance

After accepting Dan McClimon’s offer to become a Wisconsin assistant coach, Ed Nuttycombe was not planning on making a career of it. He was most grateful for the opportunity to land a Big Ten job and learn from McClimon. But he wasn’t ready yet to think about putting down roots in the Midwest.

“My wife, Diane, is from New York and I’m from Virginia, so when we moved to Wisconsin, we said, ‘Let’s go for five years and then we’ll get a job back in the East somewhere closer to friends and family,’’’ Nuttycomb recalled of his mindset in 1980. “Well, five years turned into a lot more.’’

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“Ed’s career is unparalleled,” UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said. “The success is obvious when you look at the numbers, but the way he succeeded with integrity and touched so many people across his program and his sport is what speaks volumes about the job he did as a head coach.

“To be able to adapt to all the changes in society and in student-athletes over the last 30 years while maintaining such a high level of success is truly remarkable.”

“I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Ed as a colleague and as an administrator during my career,” Alvarez added. “I hate to see him go, but I wish the best for Ed, Diane and their family in retirement.”

Nuttycombe will remain with the Badgers through the summer, with his official retirement date yet to be determined. He plans on keeping his residence in Madison with his wife, Diane, and continuing to be involved with the track program in his retirement.

“I certainly want to remain part of the program at some level, and I’ll have that discussion with whoever succeeds me,” he said. “These guys haven’t seen the last of me.”

UW’s next coach would be fortunate to have Nuttycombe’s expertise to lean on. He leaves the head coach’s post with a record unequaled in the history of UW and the Big Ten.

No coach in conference history -- in any sport -- has won as many Big Ten titles as the 26 Nuttycombe’s teams collected, including the 2012 outdoor and 2013 indoor crowns.

Add in cross country -- a program for which he was responsible but didn’t directly coach -- and UW collected 52 Big Ten championships under Nuttycombe’s watch. That’s 15 more than the rest of the league combined (37) since he took over the Badgers program in 1984.

Indiana and Minnesota are tied for the next highest totals in that span -- with nine each.

Since 2000, Wisconsin has won a total of 30 Big Ten titles between cross country and track, with the rest of the conference combining for 10.

On 10 occasions under Nuttycombe’s direction, the Badgers swept the cross country and indoor and outdoor track titles in the same season to earn the Big Ten “Triple Crown.”

After Nuttycombe took over the Badgers’ running programs, UW claimed four NCAA championships in cross country, most recently in 2011.

Big Ten Championships
Nuttycombe Era (1984-)
Team XC In Out Total
Wisconsin 26 13 13 52
Indiana 0 6 3 9
Minnesota 0 4 5 9
Illinois 1 3 4 8
Michigan 3 1 1 5
Ohio State 0 1 2 3
Iowa 0 0 1 1
Michigan St 0 1 0 1
Nebraska 0 0 1 1
Penn State 0 0 0 0
Purdue 0 0 0 0
Spacer
Big Ten Championships
2000-Present
Team XC In Out Total
Wisconsin 13 9 8 30
Minnesota 0 3 3 6
Indiana 0 1 0 1
Iowa 0 0 1 1
Michigan 0 0 1 1
Nebraska 0 0 1 1
Illinois 0 0 0 0
Michigan State 0 0 0 0
Ohio State 0 0 0 0
Penn State 0 0 0 0
Purdue 0 0 0 0

The crowning achievement of Nuttycombe’s decorated career, however, was winning the team title -- the first ever for a Big Ten program -- at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships. The national championship represented one of the Badgers’ four NCAA podium finishes under Nuttycombe, which included a third-place finish indoors in 2013.

For his part in UW’s success, Nuttycombe earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors an unprecedented 22 times. He also was named Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association 11 times since 1995, including for the 2013 indoor season.

After leading the Badgers to the 2007 NCAA title, Nuttycombe was named USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year.

However, for Nuttycombe, it was always about the athletes wearing “Wisconsin” across their chests.

Ten Badgers combined to claim a total of 11 individual NCAA championships under Nuttycombe, including the five national titles claimed by Chris Solinsky from 2005-07. UW had three champions outdoors in 1997 alone, with Reggie Torian in the 110 hurdles, Pascal Dobert in the 3000 steeplechase and James Dunkleberger in the decathlon.

Solinsky’s school-record 11 All-America citations were among the remarkable total of 187 All-America awards collected by UW athletes during his tenure.

Nuttycombe’s program produced five Olympians, including three that competed on the sport’s ultimate stage at the 2012 Games in London: Mohammed Ahmed, Evan Jager and Matt Tegenkamp.
 
In addition to running the Badgers’ program, Nuttycombe was specifically responsible for coaching a number of event areas over the course of his career.

A specialty was always the hurdles, and he coached Torian to a collegiate-record time of 7.47 seconds in the indoor 60 hurdles that still stands today. Most recently, while coaching UW’s combined-event athletes, he guided Japheth Cato to three straight Big Ten titles and consecutive NCAA runner-up finishes in the indoor heptathlon. Cato owns the top six heptathlon marks in Big Ten history, and three of the 11 best scores ever by a collegian.

While Nuttycombe never coached the Badgers’ cross country team, his track record with hiring coaches to lead the program was impeccable. Each of the three coaches Nuttycombe tabbed to mentor the Badgers’ distance runners -- Martin Smith (1985, 1988), Jerry Schumacher (2005) and Mick Byrne (2011) -- won national titles at UW.

Nuttycombe’s track record in the classroom was equally as impressive. His athletes collected 19 Capital One Academic All-America honors and a total of 291 Academic All-Big Ten awards.

A 1977 graduate of Virginia Tech, Nuttycombe came to Wisconsin as an assistant coach in 1980 under head coach Dan McClimon. Following McClimon’s tragic passing in April 1983, Nuttycombe was appointed the Badgers’ interim coach on his 31st birthday. He officially took over as head coach prior to the 1984 season.

Nuttycombe inherited a strong program and, over the next 30 years, built it into something even stronger.

“Looking back, I’m proud of so many things we’ve accomplished over the years,” Nuttycombe said, “but it’s especially fulfilling to be able to say that we built a complete program, from cross country and distance runners to sprinters and throwers and decathletes.

“I’ve had the great fortune to be well-supported by our administration, work with some of the best coaches in the sport and coach some tremendous athletes,” he added. “It’s the people that have come through this program that have made it great to be a Badger.”

Nuttycombe By The Numbers
• 2007 NCAA Indoor Champions - Only Big Ten team to win indoor national title
• 11 NCAA Individual Championships
• 187 All-America Honors
• 26 Big Ten Championships - Winningest coach in Big Ten history
• 10 Big Ten “Triple Crowns”
• 165 Individual Big Ten Championships
• 19 Academic All-America Honors
• 291 Academic All-Big Ten Selections
• 22-Time Big Ten Coach of the Year
• 11-Time Regional Coach of the Year

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