December 2014

George Williams

College and 2004 Olympic Coach

George Williams has coached 33 NCAA national champion teams, 32 Olympians (including three gold medalists) and garnered more than 100 coach-of-the-year awards.

A star in the track and field universe, his impact reaches far beyond athletics.   The Miami native graduated from St. Augustine’s University in 1965, returning in 1968 to begin a career that included working in the admissions, student activities, and alumni affairs offices. As head coach for the men’s and women’s track and field and cross country teams since 1976, he continually stresses the priority of academics, especially to prospective students.

“I tell them quickly that the first thing is academics, second is athletics, and then a controlled social life – in that order,” he said.   “I don’t care how good you are, how fast you can run, or how high you can jump. If you’re not here for an education, then you can go home.”

Williams’ scholarship athletes boast a 95 percent graduation rate, reflecting the success of his emphasis on academics and his love for the students. He cherishes every championship for its special meaning to the current team.

However, he regrets that many of his athletes will not get the recognition they deserve for their talents because St. Augustine’s is a small, Division II, historically black university.

“But if you look at the records, we beat almost all of the Division I schools that we compete against,” he said with evident pride.   In 2004, in recognition of his reputation and achievements, he was named the head coach for the 2004 United State men’s Olympic track and field team in Athens.

“I didn’t go there as a black coach from an HBCU,” he said. “I went there as an American representing the United States of America.” Not surprisingly, his team brought home 19 medals.