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Cal’s Hunt decides 30 years of track coaching is enough

Staff Report
Wednesday July 17, 2002

Cal head track & field coach Erv Hunt will move into an executive administrative role at the university, the Cal Athletic Department announced this week. 

Hunt coached Golden Bear athletes for 30 years. He will continue to assist the program with alumni and fundraising activities, along with new responsibilities within the athletic department. 

“I am excited about this opportunity,” Hunt said. “With my years of experience at Cal, I feel I can do more good at this point in my career in this new capacity than I can as a coach.  

“My time as head coach have been extremely rewarding. I’ve had people tell me to forget about wins and losses. They’ve told me that I’ve served the University and the Cal Track & Field program in the right way. I feel good about that and the success many of the teams and individuals I’ve coached have had.”  

“Erv Hunt is a person of exceptional integrity and great accomplishment, and he is uniquely qualified for this newly-created position,” said Cal Athletic Director Steve Gladstone. “Erv and I have been coaching colleagues and friends since he first arrived at Cal 30 years ago. In recent months, we have engaged in informal conversations about his future wishes and plans. It became quite apparent that the best interests of both Erv and the athletic department could be served by creating this position for him.”  

Gladstone said a national search for Hunt’s successor is already underway.  

In 1996, Hunt received his highest honor when he was named the United States’ head men’s track and field coach for the Atlanta Olympics. Under Hunt’s direction, the U.S. won 16 medals: 10 gold, four silver and two bronze. 

But Hunt’s coaching prowess was recognized on the international stage long before the 1996 Olympics. In 1986, he was tabbed an assistant coach for the U.S. at the Freedom Games in Moscow. This led to additional assistant assignments for the 1989 World Cup Games in Barcelona, Spain, for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and for the 1993 World Championships in Stugardt, Germany. His first head coaching job with USA Track and Field came at the 1995 World University Games in Fukada, Japan.  

Hunt, 55, arrived on the Berkeley campus in 1972 as an assistant coach to head men’s track and field coach Dave Maggard. When Maggard was named athletic director in 1973, he promptly selected Hunt as his successor as he was so impressed with Hunt’s teaching ability, enthusiasm and stability. At the time of Hunt’s hiring as head coach at the age of 25, he was the youngest head coach ever to be named at the university. Prior to his reassignment, Hunt was the senior member of the school’s coaching staff.  

After 19 years at the helm of Cal’s men’s track and field program, Hunt accepted a new challenge in 1992, adding the title of Director of Track & Field to his job description in overseeing the merger of the school’s men’s and women’s programs.  

It has been a storybook 31 seasons for Hunt, who is the winningest men’s and women’s coach in Cal’s 102-year track and field history. The Fresno product boasts a men’s dual-meet record of 247-76 and a women’s mark of 94-40-1. His winning percentages are the best in Cal history.  

At the NCAA championships, Hunt has guided the Bear men to 13 Top 25 team finishes over the years, including eight Top 15 showings and three in the Top 10. In 1988, Cal experienced its greatest success under Hunt, tying for fifth in the country behind a victory from Kari Nisula in the discus and second-place performances from Atlee Mahorn in the 200 and Rod Jett in the 110-meter hurdles. On the women’s side, the Bears’ best result was a tie for 19th in 2000 behind Missy Vanek’s third in the heptathlon and Jennifer Joyce’s fourth in the hammer.  

During Hunt’s tenure, he has directed the progress of 90 All-Americans, including Joyce, Erin Belger (800) and Bubba McLean (pole vault) in 2002. His resume also includes coaching five NCAA individual champions and 51 conference champions.  

Since the 1976 Olympics, Hunt’s first at the helm at Cal, 23 athletes have earned spots on various Olympic teams.  

Hunt has a long-time reputation as one of the finest hurdling coaches in the nation and is a member of the USATF National Olympic Development coaching staff in this area. He also was named the 1981 NCAA District VIII Coach of the Year.  

Born and raised in Fresno, Hunt enjoyed an outstanding prep and collegiate career in his hometown. A three-sport standout at Edison High School, he was a wide receiver in football, played center in basketball and ran the hurdles in track. At Fresno Community College in 1967, Hunt clocked the nation’s fastest junior college time in the 120-yard high hurdles. He later transferred to Fresno State on a football scholarship and was inducted into the Bulldog Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2000, he was enshrined in the city of Fresno’s Hall of Fame.  

The Green Bay Packers drafted Hunt in the sixth round (145th pick overall) of the 1970 NFL Draft. He played two seasons of professional football until a back injury forced an early athletic retirement. After a brief teaching career in the Fresno area, Hunt began his historic coaching career at California.  

He and his wife, Jacquelyn, reside in El Sobrante and have two grown children, Jamie and Ericka.