Bill Dellinger began his legacy at the University of Oregon as an athlete and transitioned into a prominent distance coach during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
As a student-athlete, Dellinger was a notable star under USTFCCCA Hall of Famer Bill Bowerman. He was a two-time NCAA champion, three-time All American, and three-time Pacific Coast Conference Champion. After college, Dellinger joined the Air Force but continued his athletic training. He captured two world indoor records and six American records, and competed in the three Olympic Games. Dellinger won a bronze medal in the 5,000m during his final Olympics in 1964.
Dellinger coached at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon and then at Lane Community College before becoming an assistant coach on the Oregon men’s staff in the summer of 1967. He quickly transitioned into the head coaching role, taking over cross country for the 1969 season. Coincidently, that was the first term of legendary distance runner Steve Prefontaine’s career as a Duck. Four years later, Dellinger took on men’s track & field head coaching duties after Bowerman stepped down from the post in 1973. Dellinger continued to hold both positions until his retirement in 1998.
During Dellinger’s 29 years as the head cross country coach, Oregon captured four NCAA Cross Country Championships and five runner-up finishes, as well as one NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship.
Prefontaine, Matt Centrowitz, Rudy Chapa, Joaquin Cruz, Bill McChesney, Jr., and Alberto Salazar were among the distance sensations Dellinger mentored. Dellinger also coached several other post-collegiate Olympians, including Danny Lopez, Nick Rogers, and Mary Slaney. Appropriately, he served as the U.S. Olympic Track & Field team distance coach for the 1984 Olympics.
Dellinger retired at the end of the 1998 cross country season but continued coaching in a consulting capacity. After suffering a stroke in 2000, he underwent rehabilitation and resumed coaching. He is honored for his accomplishments in the Drake Relays Hall of Fame and the USATF Hall of Fame.