A proven coach, an American track & field leader, and a savvy administrator, Dick Hill had seen it all. Having a career that spanned nearly 50 years within the athletics community, Hill’s legacy goes beyond a single school or sport.
Hill coached a number of Olympians – many of whom became household names. As a coach, he was credited with 24 national champions and an astounding 34 world records were tied or broken by his athletes.
Hill graduated cum laude from Southern University in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and became the first student from a predominately-black college to earn a NAIA Scholar-Athlete Graduate Scholarship. He came to Southern as a basketball, football, and track & field recruit, having won the New York state decathlon title while attending Charles E. Gorton High School in Yonkers.
After earning a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Buffalo, Hill turned his sights to coaching and landed his first job at Florida A&M. In 1963 and 1964, Hill guided the Rattlers to conference titles in both years at the helm and mentored sprinter and wide-receiver Bob Hayes. Soon after being drafted in the seventh round by the Dallas Cowboys, Hayes entered the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. At the games, Hayes won two golds. In the 100 meters, he was the Olympic Champion and set a new world record. He followed with gold as a member of the 4×100 relay. As a football player, Hayes would have a Hall of Fame career and was champion with the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.
The short stent at Florida A&M proved to be a good launching point for Hill’s next stop – his alma mater, Southern.
From 1965 to 1972, Hill was the school’s head track & field and cross country coach. Southern won five-straight NAIA track and field championships and Track and Field News honored his team, naming it the program of the decade for the 1960s. In addition to being named NAIA Coach of the Year in 1965 while at Southern, he coached Olympic gold medalist hurdlers Willie Davenport and Rod Milburn along with Olympian Theron “T-Bird” Lewis, who set the 440-yard indoor world record in 1967.
Hill went on a year’s sabbatical during his days at Southern to work on his doctorate in education, which he received from Buffalo State in 1970.
After Southern, Hill moved on to San Diego State where he would stay for nine years. In 1980, the Aztecs won the WAC title and, in the year prior, SDSU went 12-0 in duals.
Hill, in the late 1970s and 1980s, coached two-time Olympic decathlon gold medalist Daley Thompson, two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 400 meter hurdles Edwin Moses, and Olympic gold medalist and long jump world-record holder Bob Beamon – among others.
Hill was named as assistant coach to Team USA that was the first national team to compete against China in their country. He was also an assistant for national teams that included the 1981 U.S. World Cup team and 1983 Pan-America Games team.
For the 1992 Olympic Trials, Hill was a member of the TAC Executive Oversight Committee.
In the final 20 years of his career, Hill made his mark as an administrator.
From 1981 to 1986, Hill was the Athletics Director at Southern. Along with initiating a new cable and radio sports network for the department, he led SU to three-straight SWAC All-Sports Trophy victories.
He moved on to Louisville from 1986 to 1992 where he was Senior Associate Athletic Director before turning to MIT where he spent 1992 to 2000 as the Director of Athletics and intramurals.
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