An outstanding athlete at the University of Southern California, Payton Jordan went on to become a legendary coach at Occidental College and Stanford University, as well as a record-setting Masters runner.
At USC, where he was coached by fellow USTFCCCA Hall of Famer Dean Cromwell, Jordan excelled in track, rugby, and football. On the track, he helped the Trojans win two national collegiate team titles and was a member of a world-record setting 4×110 yard relay team. In 1939, Payton played on the Trojan football team that beat Duke 7-3 in the Rose Bowl. He won the AAU 100m title in 1941 and after World War II became track coach at Occidental College, turning the small school into a national power.
At Occidental, Jordan coached his team to two NAIA track & field championships and ten league titles. One of his athletes, Bob Gutowski, set a world record in the pole vault. In all, five of his Occidental athletes achieved world records, and two won Olympic medals. Jordan also coached the freshman football team at Occidental to five conference titles and a tie for a sixth.
After ten years at Occidental, he moved to Stanford in 1957. Over the next 22 years, he took the Cardinal to a runner-up NCAA finish in 1963 and produced seven Olympic athletes, six world record holders, and numerous NCAA champions. He capped a distinguished career as the head coach of the 1968 Olympic Team in Mexico City, after serving as an assistant at the 1964 Olympics.
A successful meet director, Jordan directed two of the greatest track meets ever held on American soil – the 1960 Olympic Trials and the 1962 USA vs. USSR dual meet, both at Stanford. A member of the USC, Occidental, Stanford, NAIA, and USATF Halls of Fame, among others, Jordan was awarded the Dwight D. Eisenhower Fitness Award by the United States Sports Academy in 1999.
A lifelong athlete, Jordan also achieved amazing success as a Masters sprinter. He set the world record in the 100m for every age group from 55 to 80.