Dave Walker has been the head coach of the East Tennessee State University track and cross country teams for over 40 years. Since 1969, Walker’s men’s cross country teams have won 22 conference championships, qualified for 16 NCAA championships, and finished in the top ten 11 times. He has earned some 20 conference coach of the year honors and been named USTCA District Coach of the Year ten times.
A graduate of East Tennessee State, Walker’s first paid coaching job was at Chamblee High School in Atlanta, where he coached track & field and the offensive line in football. He returned to ETSU to finish a master’s degree in 1962, and in 1963, he accepted the head coaching job in track & field for the Buccaneers.
Walker has been busy in his 40-plus years at the helm of the Buccaneer program, producing 30 All Americans along with a number of world-class runners, including Kevin Johnson, a nine-time All American; Seamus Power, a five-time All American; and Robert Rovere, a four-time All American. Walker also coached Ray Flynn, who became one of the five top milers in the world; and Neil Cusack, the 1972 NCAA cross country national champion and the winner of the 1974 Boston Marathon.
Walker has recruited student-athletes from all over the globe, but perhaps is most famous for establishing a fine tradition of Irish runners at East Tennessee State. His most famous team, the “Irish Brigade,” finished as runners-up at the 1972 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The squad, comprised of five Irishmen (Neil Cusack, Ed Leddy, P.J. Leddy, Ray McBride, and Kevin Breen) earned ETSU’s highest national ranking in the sport.
Walker is a former chairman of the Track & Field Rules Committee and was the recipient of a special award of appreciation for a career dedicated to outstanding service to track & field from the NCAA Division I Track Coaches Association in July 2003. The East Tennessee track was named the Dave Walker Track in his honor in 1995.