M.E. “Bill” Easton earned his place among the top track & field coaches of all-time, winning six NCAA titles at two different institutions, Drake University and the University of Kansas. During his 18 years as Kansas’ head coach in cross country, and indoor and outdoor track from 1947-65, Easton’s KU teams won 39 conference championships, including one stretch of eight years from 1952-59 when his Jayhawks won the conference title in all three sports.
A graduate of Indiana University, Easton was coached by fellow USTFCCCA Hall of Famer Billy Hayes. As coach at Drake from 1941-47, Easton produced three consecutive NCAA champion cross-country teams, from 1944-46, and served as director of the Drake Relays. In 1947, Easton moved on to the head coaching position at Kansas, where his teams won the 1953 national collegiate cross country title and the 1959 and 1960 NCAA outdoor track titles. Easton’s teams also earned two runner-up finishes outdoors. Easton-coached athletes at Kansas set four world records, four Olympic records, 14 American records, 14 intercollegiate records, seven NCAA records, and two national college freshman records.
During a coaching career that spanned three decades, Easton produced a total of 32 All Americans and eight Olympians. Three of those Olympians were Olympic champions and world record holders – shot putter Bill Nieder, discus thrower Al Oerter, and distance runner Billy Mills. After his retirement from full-time coaching in 1965, Easton continued his involvement in the sport, coaching the 1968 Mexican Olympic Team.
Easton served as President of the track coaches association from 1965-66. He is honored in the Helms Hall of Fame, the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, the Indiana High School Hall of Fame, and the KU Athletics Hall of Fame.