In a conference as steeped in track & field history and tradition as the Big Ten, to hold the distinction of being the winningest coach in league history is something special. Special is also an apt way to describe Ed Nuttycombe’s 30-year tenure at the helm of Wisconsin’s men’s track & field program.
From the moment he accepted his first head coaching job in 1984 through the day he stepped down in 2013, he spent all 30 years building a Wisconsin program that would dominate the Big Ten track & field landscape.
Of the 60 total Big Ten track & field team titles awarded during his three decades at the helm in Madison, 26 went to the Badgers – 13 indoors and 13 outdoors – for a total greater than each of the next three teams combined.
His Badgers in 2007 accomplished what no other Big Ten team in history had ever done when it won an NCAA Division I Indoor team championship, the first in the history of Wisconsin track & field. It was preceded by a third-place team finish in 2005 and followed by another third-place showing in Nuttycombe’s final season in 2013.
Twelve men won indoor and/or outdoor track & field national titles during Nuttycombe’s tenure, and his men finished as high as fourth outdoors to tie the program’s all-time best NCAA finish from the 1930s. All told, his athletes went on to earn 187 All-America honors.
His squad won the outdoor Big Ten team title in his second year in 1986, but nearly a decade would pass before Nuttycombe’s Badgers truly hit their stride with three-in-a-row both from 1995-97 and 2001-03, four in a row from 2004-07 and final one in 2012.
His indoor squads followed a similar pattern with league crowns in 1986, 1995-97, 2000-01, six in a row from 2003-08 and one in his 2013 indoor finale.
Along the way he guided 165 student-athletes to event championships at the Big Ten meet, with 10 Big Ten Athletes of the Year, 13 Athletes of the Championships and four Freshmen of the Year.
Prior to taking over in Madison, Nuttycombe graduated from Virginia Tech in 1977 as a four-year letterwinner in the pole vault and decathlon. He served at Northern Illinois as an assistant while earning his master’s degree until 1980. He then became an assistant at Wisconsin – beginning a journey at Wisconsin that would ultimately lead to this induction.