Coaches like Dr. Jack Daniels only come around once in a generation.
From his unparalleled success as the head coach at SUNY Cortland to his groundbreaking training advancements to being named the “World’s Best Coach” by Runner’s World magazine, Daniels continues to leave an indelible impact on the sports of cross country and track & field.
Daniels began coaching at Oklahoma City University in 1961 after wrapping up an incredibly successful athletic career that included Olympic medals in the modern pentathlon at the 1956 and 1960 Summer Olympics. It was at the end of his stint with the Stars that Daniels earned his Master of Education in Physical Education and Exercise Physiology from the University of Oklahoma in 1965.
The two-time Olympic medalist had a thirst for more knowledge as he pursued his doctorate in Physical Education and Exercise Physiology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, following a short stint as the Peruvian national track & field coach from 1965 to 1966. He added the letters Ph.D. to the end of his name in 1969, four years after completing his master’s.
Daniels forged ahead to the Lone Star State as head coach of the women’s track & field team at the University of Texas from 1969 to 1980 and then to the Granite State as the assistant men’s track & field coach at the University of New Hampshire from 1980 to 1982.
He eventually found his way to Cortland, New York, in 1986. It was in the “Crown City” where Daniels built a dynasty over the next 17 years as the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track & field programs at SUNY Cortland.
From 1986 to 2004, the Red Dragons won eight national titles, finished national runner-up four other times, and amassed 31 individual national titles and more than 120 All-America honors.
No program at SUNY Cortland had more success under Daniels’ direction than the women’s cross country team. There is a reason why Daniels was named the NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Century in 2000.
Daniels led the Red Dragon women to seven national titles on the grass circuit – which is still the most of any NCAA DIII women’s program – including four in a row from 1992 to 1995. It was that 1992 team that set the current divisional record for the lowest total score at a championship meet with 18 points. And from 1987 to 1999, SUNY Cortland never finished outside the top-10 at NCAAs.
Following his record-setting stint with the Red Dragons, Daniels proceeded to Flagstaff, Arizona, where he was the head distance coach at the Center for High Altitude Training on the campus of Northern Arizona University from 2005 to 2009. During his time in Flagstaff, Daniels penned his book “Daniels’ Running Formula,” which detailed his legendary VDOT formula.
Daniels is currently the head cross country coach at Wells College, a position he has held since being hired on March 21, 2013.