CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - A Southern Illinois University Hall of Fame coach has passed away.
SIU Track and Field coach Lew Hartzog died on Tuesday night, April 9.
A small ceremony will be held for family and the several friends he and his wife Sally shared. A public celebration of Hartzog’s life will be held at Southern Illinois University in the months to follow. A specific date has not been announced yet.
According to SIU, he came to the university in 1961 after three seasons as the head track and field coach at University of Louisiana-Monroe. In his second season, SIU won the NCAA College division title, what is now NCAA Division II, in cross country with a then-record 32 points. That spring, SIU’s men’s track and field team won the NAIA national championship.
Southern moved to the University level in 1962 and Hartzog’s teams didn’t miss a beat.
SIU finished sixth at the NCAA cross country championships that fall, and later that spring. The men’s track team finished fourth at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Hartzog’s Saluki men’s track and field teams never lost a MVC Championship, indoor and outdoor, from 1976 to 1984 and tallied four top-10 finishes in NCAA championship meets, four additional top 20 finishes and placed at another eight national meets.
In his final season as head coach, the Salukis finished fifth at the 1984 NCAA Outdoor Championships and came within a clean pass of the baton in the relays of a national championship.
In 1981, he became athletic director and held that title until he retired for the first time in 1984. During that time, he hired his formal student, Bill Cornell, to head the Saluki track and field program.
In 1986, Hartzog took over as SIU’s golf coach, a position he held until he retired for good in 1992.
During his 27 years as a head track and field coach, he was named National Coach of the Year in 1982 and 1984, coached 67 All-Americans, 12 national champions and at least a dozen Olympians. Twenty-one of Hartzog’s former track athletes are in the Saluki Athletics Hall of Fame.
According to SIU, while Hartzog will be best remembered for what his teams accomplished, he will also be recalled as a man who stood up to racism in turbulent times.
In 1957, he started his career at Northeast Louisiana, now called UL-Monroe. According to SIU, he built a powerhouse, but Louisiana law forbid him from competing at NCAA Championship meets because of the number of African-Americans on his team.
“With that team, as great as it was, we couldn’t compete in the NCAA Championships because there were blacks,” Hartzog said in 1992 of his 1957 Northeast Louisiana team. “That was the Louisiana law at the time and it bothered me a great deal, to have a bunch of kids that good and to not take them on to the national championships.”
SIU reported former Saluki and Olympian Oscar Moore remembered an instance in which the Salukis were traveling through Alabama over spring break.
Upon arriving at a restaurant, the owners refused to serve Moore or any of the African-American athletes on the team, but encouraged the white athletes to have a seat. Without second thought, Hartzog led his athletes out of the establishment.
In addition to being a member of the Saluki Hall of Fame, Hartzog was enshrined in the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, the Illinois Track Coaches Hall of Fame, the United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame as well as the MVC Hall of Fame.