Smith Steps Down as Oregon's Track Coach

Eugene, Ore.--University of Oregon track and field head coach Martin Smith has announced his resignation from the position, effective immediately, following six seasons of directing the Ducks' men's outdoor track program, according to the school's Director of Athletics Bill Moos. <br><br> Moos said the university would honor the terms of Smith's contract that runs through June 30, 2008, and calls for an annual base salary of $100,000 in addition to $50,000 of supplemental income.

"I am pleased with the success of the university's track program," Smith said. "I am especially proud of the recent sixth-place finish in the NCAA indoor meet and look forward to the possibility that the men may win the Pac-10 championship this year. Nonetheless, I have become increasingly concerned about the controversy and related publicity regarding the track program. To protect my athletes from this distraction, I conclude that it is best that I resign my position."

Associate Athletics Director Gary Gray, who has overseen the men's and women's track and field programs from an administrative standpoint since 1997, will assume direction of the programs for the remainder of the season.

Since taking over as head coach of the Ducks' men's program prior to the 1998-99 season, Smith has guided the school's men and women to 10 NCAA top-25 team finishes, 16 Pac-10 individual crowns and 48 All-America honors. He added the duties overseeing the Oregon women prior to 2003-04 when the university combined its men's and women's track programs.

As a team, his men's squads have finished in the top nine on four occasions in the NCAA Track and Field Championships (indoors - sixth in 2005, ninth in 2002; outdoors - ninth in 2001, ninth in 2004), and top-25 in track finales on two other occasions (outdoors – 13th in 2003; indoors – 18th in 2004) and four times in cross country (sixth in 1999, 13th in 2001, fifth in 2002, 21 st in 2003). Included among those meets was the 2001 NCAA outdoor finale at Hayward Field in Eugene that featured NCAA victories by Santiago Lorenzo (decathlon) and John Stiegeler (javelin), and All-America efforts from Jason Hartmann (third, 10,000) and Billy Pappas (eighth, decathlon).

In the Pacific-10 Track and Field Championships, the Duck men have posted a league-leading three straight top-two finishes the past three years (first in 2003; second in 2002 and 2004), and have won 11 individual men's titles in that span (2002-5, 2003-3, 2004-3). In cross country, his men's squad has finished top three in the Pac-10 meet in all six of his seasons as men's head coach, including second in 2000, '02, and '03 as well as third in 1999, '01 and '04. Individually, Steve Fein became Oregon's ninth individual harrier champion in 1999, and is one of six first-team and eight second-team cross country all-league picks under Smith.

Smith assumed the Duck reins after a distinguished tenure as men's cross country head coach and assistant track and field coach at the University of Wisconsin. His distance runners tallied 77 NCAA All-America honors (43 track, 34 cross country) and five NCAA individual titles. Simultaneously, his cross country program racked up two NCAA titles (1985, ‘88), two runner-up finishes (1984, '93) and two third-place distinctions (1987, '91) among their nine top-five NCAA team finishes (and never lower than 14 th in his 15 seasons in Madison). His Badger squads won 12 Big Ten harrier cross country team titles and 10 Great Lakes/District IV cross country crowns, including eight consecutive league harrier titles between 1985-92. On the track, Smith-coached runners won 32 individual conference track titles and four cross country titles from 1984-98.

On the track, his All-America roll is one of the nation's most prolific among distance coaches in recent history. From 1984-98, he coached at least one All-American every year, including five or more in 1984, 1985, 1995 and 1996. The breakdown of his 54 men's distance awards at Oregon and Wisconsin looms equally impressive, balanced between the 1,500 (5), 3,000 (4), steeplechase (10), 5,000 (22), 10,000 (10) and distance medley (3).

In the classroom, the Ducks have featured 12 Academic men's and women's All-Americans under his tutelage since 1999 – Ryan Andrus, Adam Bergquist, Steve Fein, Santiago Lorenzo, Billy Pappas, John Stiegeler and Kirsten Larwin. At the conference level, the Duck men have featured three or more first-team track and field men's all-academic picks every year since 1999, and led the Pac-10 in 2002 (4), 2003 (5) and '04 (5). The Duck women were equally prolific in ‘04 with 11 of their potential 18 nominees tabbed to Pac-10 first, second or honorable mention teams.

The Alexandria, Va., native initially accepted the head distance post at Wisconsin after three seasons at the University of Virginia. His Cavalier teams won consecutive NCAA women's cross country and ACC titles in 1981 and 1982, and Lesley Welch won the 1982 individual national harrier title. In his stint in Charlottesville, his M&W distance runners racked up 11 All-America accolades.

Smith (12-16-51) began his coaching career in 1975 at Oakton High School in Vienna, Va., and coached future Oregon All-American and 1983 World Champs qualifier Jim Hill as a prepster. After helping lead Oakton to the Virginia AAA state harrier title in 1978, he moved to the college ranks at George Mason in 1979.

Smith's UO predecessors include Bill Dellinger (1973-98), Bill Bowerman (1949-72), John Warren (1948), Bill Hayward (1904-47), Joseph W. Wetherbee (1895), William Ray (1903), C.A. Redmond (1902), J.C. Higgins (1897) and William O. Trine (1896, 1898-1901).

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