Mel Rosen, head coach at Auburn University from 1963-91, led the Tigers to four consecutive SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships from 1977-80, as well as an outdoor track & field championship in 1979.
A 1950 graduate of the University of Iowa, Rosen coached at his alma mater as an assistant for three years while earning his master’s degree and starting work on a doctorate. He also served two years in the Army at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was the post track coach.
Rosen came to Auburn in 1955 as an assistant professor in the physical education department. That year he became involved in the Auburn track program as an assistant to head coach and fellow USTFCCCA Hall of Famer Wilbur Hutsell. He was placed in charge of Auburn’s distance and relay teams and held that position until Hutsell retired following the 1963 season. Rosen then stepped up to become only the second head coach in Auburn history.
In 1978, Rosen was honored as the SEC and NCAA Coach of the Year in both indoor and outdoor competition. His 1978 team placed second at the SEC outdoor, fifth at the NCAA outdoor, first at the SEC indoor, and second at the NCAA indoor meets. Rosen’s teams finished in the top ten at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships for four consecutive years, from 1976 to 1979. Rosen repeated as NCAA Indoor Coach of the Year in 1980 and was named SEC Indoor Coach of the Year in 1985.
In Rosen’s coaching tenure, he coached seven Olympic performers. Rosen also coached 143 All Americans, including 63 SEC indoor and outdoor champions and eight NCAA champions.
At the end of the 1991 season, he stepped down as Auburn’s track coach to become the head coach of the 1992 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team. His selection as head coach of the Olympic Team makes him the only Auburn coach ever to head an Olympic Team in any sport. Rosen also served as an assistant coach on the 1984 Olympic Team staff, as well as serving as head coach of the 1987 Outdoor World Championships team.
Rosen was active in USA Track & Field, serving as men’s track & field committee chairman and receiving the 1994 Robert Giegengack Award for outstanding service to the organization. He also served as President of the track coaches association from 1978-79 and is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the USATF Hall of Fame. Rosen currently serves as a consultant for the Auburn track & field team.
Rosen passed away on March 25, 2018 at the age of 90.