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Southern Miss Legend Doc Harrington Passes Away

Doc Harrington

Oct. 6, 2013

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Long-time Southern Miss Athletic Department member Larry "Doc" Harrington passed away Saturday morning. He was 81.

Doc Harrington is a name that is synonymous with The University of Southern Mississippi which encompassed almost a 40-year career with the school and was involved in more aspects of running the school's athletic department than anyone else in the department's history.

Harrington's involvement with the Southern Miss athletic department dates back to his days as a student. He actually had begun his collegiate years at Tulane on an athletic scholarship, where he hoped to play football after a successful athletic career at Hattiesburg (Miss.) High School as a football and basketball standout. But after a brief stay at Tulane he returned to his hometown to begin a lifetime association with Southern Miss.

As a student at Southern Miss he spent time as an athletic trainer/manager and proudly remembered that he was with the team during some of its biggest victories in the early 1950s including the 1953 team that beat Alabama and Georgia and went to the Sun Bowl.

After graduating from Southern in 1954 he spent several years in the United States Army, where among other things he served as post athletic trainer and equipment manager for all sports at Fort Benning, Ga.

Harrington returned to Southern Miss in 1958 and received his Masters Degree before joining the athletic staff full-time in August of 1958.

Through his illustrious career at Southern Miss, Harrington has been an instructor in the Department of Coaching and Sports Administration, a certified athletic trainer (NATA), a registered physical therapist and a corrective therapist. In 1974 he received his Ed.D. from Southern Miss. Also during that time, Harrington helped establish a program within that department to create a pathway for student athletic trainers to begin the road to becoming certified athletic trainers. Several hundred former students under Harrington have gone on to become certified athletic trainers from the high school level through the professional ranks.

Harrington served as the athletic trainer at the annual Senior Bowl for the north squad for over a quarter of a century.

Along with his athletic role on campus, he also served as the official liaison between the University and the United States Army and administered a program for the command and general staff college, which brought thousands of army officers to the University over many summers for their career progression and provided the University with $8 million each year.

School officials and members of the community honored him in 1978 for his contributions to the field of athletics at Southern Miss and the Hattiesburg area. Again in 1986, Harrington was presented the Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award by the South Mississippi Chapter of the National Football Foundation and the M-Club Hall of Fame honored him with induction as well. But still his greatest honor came when his peers in the National Athletic Trainers Association voted him into their Hall of Fame in 1987.

Just last summer, he was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame to become the first athletic trainer to be bestowed that honor.

In addition to serving as the head athletic trainer for the Golden Eagles, Harrington served as the school's tennis coach beginning in 1961 and continued until 1987 and produced some of the school's most outstanding tennis players during that time.

Harrington also served for a number of years as the equipment manager for Southern Miss sports.

His son Larry, Jr., was an outstanding tight end for the Golden Eagles from 1976-78 and is also a member of the M-Club Sports Hall of Fame. His two other sons, Billy, played fullback for the Golden Eagles and lettered for the program in 1984, and Kelly, was a cheerleader at the University. Grandson, Cooper Harrington, is a current member of the roster as a wide receiver and lettered in 2012.

Several generations of Southern Miss athletes have been taken care of by Harrington and it has been because of his dedication and loyalty to the athletic department that the school has been able to accomplish so much. His contributions will always be remembered by thousands of Golden Eagle coaches, players and fans.

Both visitation and funeral will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hattiesburg, with the visitation set for 5-8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 8, and the funeral for Wednesday, Oct. 9, beginning at 10:30 a.m., followed by the internment ceremony at Highland Cemetery in Hattiesburg.

quotes on Doc Harrington...
Bill McGillis, Southern Miss Director of Athletics
"Few people have dedicated their life to Southern Miss and Southern Miss athletics like Doc Harrington. Doc and the entire Harrington family have been a part of the University and its athletics program for a long, long time and continue that involvement even today. The outstanding athletic training program that we have at Southern Miss can be traced back to a dream that Doc had many years ago and thousands of our student-athletes have benefitted from the care and treatment of Doc. As tennis coach, he helped elevate our program to another level and guided our student-athletes and the program to accomplish things that they had never accomplished before. He is a legend at Southern Miss and always will be. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Harrington family."

Dr. Doug Rouse, IHL Board Member and former Southern Miss athlete and M-Club Hall of Fame
"He was a very special to a lot of people, who had many skills in a lot of different areas. He was our first full-time athletic trainer at USM. I have known him first as a student-athletes and then as a physician. I think Doc was one of those people that transcended generations. His best skill may have been how he dealt with many different people, from student- athletes to physicians, to University administrators. He could relate to them and they all loved "Doc". He was a special guy with a lot of gifts that made him so endearing to so many people."

Jeff Bower, Former Southern Miss Football Coach
"All of us owe a lot to Doc Harrington for what he did for The University of Southern Mississippi and its athletic program. I remember as a young football player the way he treated all of us the same and did whatever he could to make sure we could get on the football field and play. He treated us all like his own children and you always had confidence that Doc was going to do what he could to get you well. Later, when I became an assistant coach here, I was amazed at how many things he did and how many hours he worked to make things better at Southern Miss. It seemed like he was here 24 hours a day. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude for his selflessness and love for Southern Miss."

John Cox, Voice of the Golden Eagles
"I spent a lot of time traveling the country with Doc Harrington on football and basketball trips and I was always amazed at how much he did and marveled at how he could get it all done in the time he had. But what you remember most about him as much he loved what he did, how good he was at it and how much he made everyone that he was around feel special. Southern Miss was lucky to have Doc be a part of its history and thousands of Southern Miss athletes should feel lucky that they worked with and were treated by one of the best. I learned a lot about a lot of things from Doc. We will miss Doc and our best wishes and prayers go out to the Harrington family."

Brett Favre, Former Golden Eagle player
"Doc was more than a trainer to not only me, but to the entire USM family. Doc went well beyond the call of duty and I know that first-hand. Doc, as well as the entire Harrington family, has been gracious with me and I am sure with the entire community. When I was injured before my senior year, it was Doc that took me under his wing and probably save my career. He was a big part of what I was able to accomplish in football."

Jim Gallaspy, Former Southern Miss Athletic Trainer
"I had the opportunity to come down here as a student to learn the athletic training profession under Doc and then the opportunity to come back and work with him for 20 years. He was caring person, worked hard in his profession. It was an honor to be around him for so many years."

Bobby Collins, Former Southern Miss Football Coach
"Doc was a legend at the USM He was synonymous with USM athletics and as I long as I have known about Southern Miss, Doc and his family were involved. He wore many hats and was successful in his work. He loved his fellow coaches and student-athletes at Southern Miss. He knew the ropes and knew the people and he could always point me in the right direction. He was not only the head trainer but he also oversaw equipment operations. He knew where to stay on road trips and where to eat. You could depend on Doc and if you needed to know something, he always had the answer. The University has lost a good friend."

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