As head coach at Fort Hays State University from 1946-80, Alex Francis’s teams won four NAIA cross country national titles and finished as runners-up five times, which ranks Fort Hays State third overall in NAIA cross country history for total team titles.
A 1935 graduate of Fort Hays State, Francis earned a master’s degree in physical education from the University of Missouri in 1940. He then became a high school teacher before World War II intervened. After serving as an Army Air Force captain during the war, Francis returned to Fort Hays State to take over as head track & field coach and assistant football coach in 1946. Francis’s teams won 25 conference championships and 139 All American awards. In 1980, Francis retired from Fort Hays State, with four NAIA Coach of the Year honors to his credit.
Throughout his career, Francis coached a number of amateur athletic teams that participated in global competitions, including the 1961 South Vietnamese track & field team competing at the Pan Asian Games and the 1974 U.S. team competing at the Pan American Games. He also served as an assistant coach on the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team.
Francis’s achievements have been widely recognized, and he is a member of both the Kansas State High Schools Activities Association’s Hall of Fame and the State of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. He also received the Fort Hays State Alumni Achievement Award and an Outstanding Faculty Member Award at FHSU. In 1993, FHSU named the newly refinished track at Lewis Field the Alex Francis Track.