USTFCCCA Mourns Passing Of Hall Of Famer Jim Sackett


POMONA — Jim Sackett, the Hall of Fame track and field coach that put Cal Poly Pomona on the map in his 27 years as the head coach of the Broncos from 1980 to 2006, passed away on Sunday.  He was 86 years old.

“Coach Sackett was a beloved coach, mentor and friend to all,” said CPP Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Brian Swanson. “He was a principled man resolute in fairness and equity. Coach Sackett was always available to every student-athlete and staff member. His office drop-ins were filled with wonderful stories and his passion for all sports was always evident in all our conversations. We are all better people and professionals being able to call Coach Sackett a colleague and friend.”

“Coach Sackett remained highly connected to Cal Poly Pomona after his retirement, including being inducted into the Broncos Hall of Fame in 2014 and the CCAA Hall of Fame in 2020,” Swanson added. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Coach Sackett’s family and we are thankful that they shared his time, talent and treasures with us during his coaching career.”

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Sackett, who was recently inducted into the CCAA Hall of Fame, adding to his already impressive list of Hall of Fame accolades, built the CPP track and field program into a national powerhouse when he arrived in Pomona in 1980.

On the conference stage, Cal Poly Pomona’s men won five CCAA cross country championships, with four Broncos crossing the line first to take the individual title. He directed the men’s team to the NCAA Championships 14 times. The team ran to a top-10 finish on seven occasions during Sackett’s tenure, including the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships team title in 1983. In the title-winning run, the Broncos compiled 86 points to edge out second-place St. Cloud State (100) and UMass Lowell (118) for the top of the podium. After that season, and again in 1997, Sackett earned NCAA Division II Cross Country Coach of the Year honors. 

During a memorable span from 1996 to 1998, Sackett was named the United States Track Coaches’ Association’s National Coach of the Year in men’s cross country in 1997, the USTCA’s Women’s Track and Field National Coach of the Year in 1997, the CCAA Coach of the Year in men’s cross country in 1996 and 1997, the CCAA Coach of the Year in women’s track and field in 1997 and 1998, the NCAA West Regional Coach of the Year in men’s cross country in 1996 and 1997 and the USTCA’s West Region Coach of the Year in women’s track and field in 1997 and 1998.

In addition to his accomplishments as a coach, Sackett has a long history of service to the sport. In his career, Sackett hosted five national championships – three in track & field (two at Western Illinois and one at Cal Poly Pomona) and two in cross country (both at Cal Poly Pomona) – and five West Region cross country championships. He also served on the NCAA Track & field sports committee for nine years, a record tenure.

Sackett’s career achievements have garnered him multiple distinctions. He received the distinguished service award in 1997 from the NCAA Cross Country Coaches Association, and also in 1989 and 1994 for his track & field contributions. In 1993, Sackett was inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame. In 1997, he added the Western Illinois Hall of Fame to his string of accomplishments, and in 2007, Sackett was named to the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame. He was enshrined in the Cal Poly Pomona Hall of Fame in 2014, and can now add CCAA Hall of Fame to his long and illustrious list of accolades. 

During his 38-year span of coaching in the Division II ranks at Western Illinois and Cal Poly Pomona, Sackett coached 12 national champions, 135 outdoor track All Americans, and 24 cross country All Americans.