During his 24-year tenure as the University of Kansas track & field and cross country coach (1965-88), Bob Timmons led the Jayhawks to four NCAA championships, 13 Big 8 outdoor track & field championships, and two conference cross country championships.
The 11-time NCAA District V coach of the year and 1975 U.S. Track & Field Coaches Association national coach of the year graduated from Kansas in 1950 and started his coaching career at Caldwell (KS) High School. He also coached at Emporia, Wichita West, and Wichita East before returning to Kansas in 1964. Timmons’s high school teams won seven state swimming titles, four cross country crowns, and six state track championships. He produced three individual cross country titlists, 29 track champs, and six state-champion relay teams.
The athletes who competed under Timmons include four-time Olympic Gold Medalist in the discus Al Oerter and Olympic Silver Medalist and former world record holder Jim Ryun. During his career, Timmons coached seven Olympians, 16 world record holders, 77 NCAA All Americans, and 24 NCAA champions.
Timmons was also a highly respected swimming coach; most notable of his athletes were world record holder and Olympic champion Jeff Farrell, and Richard Quick, who is currently head coach of Stanford University’s women’s swimming team. Following his retirement from KU in 1988, he spent several years coaching high school volleyball and junior high school track & field in Baldwin City (KS).
Timmons’s contributions to track & field and cross country and to sports in general are numerous. In 2002, Timmons self-published The NCAA: Who Protects Student-Athletes? A Proposal for a Student Athletes’ Bill of Rights, which lists ten “student-athlete rights” – ranging from the right to participate to the right to work, with special emphasis on establishing a fair system of punishment for school or team infractions. Timmons also donated Rim Rock Farm, the home course of the Kansas cross-country team since 1980, to the KU Endowment.
A recipient of Kansas’s prestigious Fred Ellsworth medallion, Timmons has been inducted into the University of Kansas Athletic Hall of Fame, the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, and the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame.
Timmons passed away on August 4, 2015, at the age of 91.