Harry Groves spent 53 years as a track & field coach, including 38 seasons as head coach at Penn State University. He has also been named Regional Coach of the Year a combined 26 times in cross country and track & field and is a five-time National Coach of the Year. The USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Region’s Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year Award is named in his honor.
A middle distance runner at Temple University, Groves began his coaching career in 1953 when he served as coach of the post track team at Fort Eustis, VA. In 1955, he joined the staff of William & Mary as assistant cross country and track coach. He took over the head coaching position in 1956 and held it until moving to Penn State in 1968.
Groves guided the Nittany Lion program for more than three decades and earned a position among the most respected and recognizable figures in track & field coaching. In his 53-year coaching career, Groves coached 11 American record-holders, 21 National champions, 14 Olympians, and 227 All Americans. His career won-loss record for dual meets is 889-180-3 (.836 winning percentage), including his tenure at William & Mary.
In addition, Groves’s teams excelled in hundreds of invitational and championship meets and won ten IC4A titles. Of the 22 NCAA cross country qualifying teams he coached, all but two placed 15th or better with a high of third in the 1979 and 1980 meets and fourth in 1975 and 1978. Since the initiation in 1978 of the NCAA regional cross country qualifying meets, Penn State has won eight Region II team titles.
Groves has been on the coaching staff of 12 U.S. track & field teams, helping to guide them in international competitions in locales such as Russia, Iran, Spain, Australia, Germany, and Sweden. He served as the assistant head coach for the 1992 Olympic Team in Barcelona, Spain and has held five U.S. track & field head coaching positions. His athletes have won a Pan American Junior Championship, a World Junior Championship, a Pan American Championship, a World Cup Championship, and an Olympic Gold Medal.
Groves has served the sport in numerous capacities, including as President of the track coaches association from 1974-75, as a member of the NCAA Track & Field Rules Committee, as a seven-time meet director for the NCAA Indoor Championships, and as Chairman of long distance events for USATF’s Olympic Development program for 14 years. He is currently Vice Chair of the USATF Men’s Committee (second appointment), and as such has served as Chairman of the USA Juniors Program since 2002. He has also served as a member of the Site Selection Committee for the 1992 and 2000 Olympic Trials, as a member of the USATF Executive Committee from 1985-present, and as a member of the Board of Directors for the World’s Greatest Athlete Decathlon Club team.
He is a member of several Halls of Fame, including the William and Mary Hall of Fame, the Virginia Intercollegiate Track & Field Hall of Fame, and the Drake Relays Hall of Fame.
Groves passed away at the age of 89 on February 23, 2020.