MTSU Track Coach Dean Hayes Passes At Age 82

Middle Tennessee State University track coaching legend Dean Hayes passed away at the age of 82 on Friday (Jan. 7).

Hayes’ career spanned 57 years where he guided the Blue Raiders programs to 29 OVC titles, 19 Sun Belt championships, and 20 NCAA Top 25 finishes. Fifty-three of his student-athletes have earned a total of 125 All-America honors, with five becoming national champions six times and a number of them having gone to compete internationally in the Olympic Games, World University Games, World Championships, Goodwill Games, Pan-American Games, and African Championships.

“Dean Hayes was a champion in so many ways: As a father, mentor and role model, a world-class recruiter, and a winning coach at the highest echelons,” says President Sidney A. McPhee. “Dean was a living legend. I speak for Elizabeth and my family, as well as all Blue Raiders, in expressing our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Jan and all of his family.”

Hayes coached NCAA champions Tommy Haynes (1974) and Barry McClure (1972, 1973), as well as NCAA high hurdle champion Dionne Rose (1994). In 2003, he coached national champion Mardy Scales, who won the 100-meter dash. His most recent national champion was Kigen Chemadi who won the 3000 meter steeplechase in 2021.

In Conference USA, Hayes claimed seven titles, five with the women and two with the men’s team. Most recently, he swept the 2021 men’s and women’s cross country championships. His men’s teams dominated the Ohio Valley Conference, and the women’s teams duplicated that success after Hayes took over the program in 1987. Both squads continued their success in the Sun Belt Conference, capturing 19 of the 51 indoor and outdoor titles for which they were eligible to win.

Hayes added four Conference USA Coach of the Year accolades and 15 Sun Belt Coach of the Year awards to complement his 15 OVC Coach of the Year honors, which included 10 in a row from 1977 to 1986. He was inducted into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

“Words can’t express what Dean Hayes has meant to MTSU, the MTSU track and field program, international track and field, and the thousands of people whose lives he has impacted through his work,” says Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. “He is on the Mount Rushmore of Middle Tennessee, and not just athletics. Coach Hayes was a pioneer and an institution at MTSU. He will be sorely missed by the community, the University, and all of his former and present student-athletes. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jan and his daughters Erin and Kara.”

Hayes also coached numerous international teams, whether sponsored by the United States Olympic Committee, USA Track & Field or an international federation. His international experience began at the first Olympic Sports Festival in Colorado Springs in 1978.

Since then, he coached numerous international teams, including: World University Games in Kobe, Japan (1985); Goodwill Games in Seattle (1990); World Cup in London (1994); World Championships in Athens, Greece (1997); the Goodwill Games in New York (1998); and the Ghanaian International team at the Senior Championships in Durban, South Africa (2016).

Hayes is survived by his wife, Jan; daughters, Erin and Kara; and sister, Judy. A family spokesperson indicated there will be a private funeral for family only; however, plans are underway for a Celebration of Life that will be open to the public. Date and time of the Celebration of Life is to be determined.

Steven Boero