May 25, 2007
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- - The University of Southern Mississippi head track and field and cross country coach Wayne Williams has announced his retirement from the post he has held for the past 10 years. His retirement is effective June 30.
"After 43 years in the coaching profession, I feel it is time to retire," Williams said. "Judi and I are both in good health and want to explore some things that we have not been able to do in the past.
"A coach's life has almost no weekends in which to do your normal life activities," continued Williams. "I hope we can use these weekends to relax, visit family and friends, travel and do the usual around-the-house chores, then have five more Saturdays in the week."
Williams continually raised the level of expectations of the Golden Eagle track and field program. During his tenure at Southern Miss, Williams produced eight NCAA All-Americans and 52 Conference USA champions. Williams' squads have broken some 80 school records over the last 10 years. He had teams finish as high as second in indoor and outdoor competition. One of his men's cross country teams captured a conference and regional title.
"First and foremost, I would like to thank the coaches Greg Stringer (10 years with me), Kevin Stephen (eight years) and Cassandra Goodson (two years as a runner and one as a coach) for their dedication and hard work for the Southern Miss track and field program," said Williams. "They have been a pleasure to work with.
"I want to thank the Southern Miss athletic administration, especially former Athletic Director Coach Bill McLellan, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the Southern Miss Athletic Program. It has been a rewarding experience for me."
Director of Athletics Richard Giannini thanked Williams for his service to the track and field programs, "Wayne has been at Southern Miss for ten years and has done a great job with our men's and women's track programs. We'd like to thank him for his dedication and hard work and wish him and his wife, Judi, the best in their retirement. We hope to see them around Hattiesburg and Southern Miss as they enjoy their retirement."
Williams and his staff had 49 athletes compete in 36 events in the NCAA Regional meet over the last four years. Last season, the Golden Eagles produced their first indoor women's NCAA All-American for the school's program and the first outdoor All-American since 2004. Williams and his staff had 10 athletes compete in nine events in the NCAA regional meet. Of the 10 participants, five advanced to the NCAA National meet. The women's team had seven Conference USA indoor and outdoor event champions.
"Next, I want all of the athletes who have been a part of our program to know how much I love and appreciate them for their hard work and contributions to our program," Williams said. "Not being around the athletes will be the hardest part of retirement."
In 2005, a total of 13 performers competing in 13 events qualified for the NCAA Regional competition, with four advancing to the NCAA National Meet. The Golden Eagles combined for seven C-USA indoor and outdoor event champions.
In 2004, Williams saw a school-record 14 performers advance to the NCAA Regional competition. Cedric Norman, Tanika Liburd and the women's 4x100-meter relay team advanced to the national meet with Norman finishing in a tie for ninth, becoming a two-time NCAA All-American.
"My wife and I will be around Hattiesburg for a while, but we have talked about relocating to Tuscaloosa, Ala., where we were for 21 years."
In 1999 and 2000, the Golden Eagle squads finished second at the indoor championships and made considerable strides in the outdoor championships. For his efforts, Williams was named Conference USA Women's Coach of the Year and the NCAA Region 9 Coach of the Year.
In 2000, Williams produced two outdoor track and field NCAA All-Americans, the first in the school's history, Wenston Riley and Jason Wilson. Riley advanced to the semifinals of the 110-meter hurdles in 2000, and in 2001, Riley advanced to the finals, finishing fifth in the process. Wilson finished eighth in the decathlon in 2000. Lady Eagle runner Hellena Wrappah qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Williams, who took over a program that only had one previous coach in its modern era, produced athletes who own 83 of 89 top performances and four Conference USA record holders..
Williams, a native of Fairfield, Ala., is a veteran coach, having worked as an assistant coach at the University of Alabama for 21 seasons. Williams also spent three years as head track coach at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. He worked as a teacher and coach at Berry High School in Birmingham, Ala., and Brandon High School in Tampa, Fla.
During his coaching career at Alabama, Williams recruited and coached 30 Olympians who won 10 medals and included three world champions. He had athletes set world records in three events and coached 175 All-Americans, 19 NCAA National Champions and four USA/TF National Champions. He was part of 16 Top-10 team finishes in the NCAA meets, in addition to three Southeastern Conference team champions and 148 individual champions. Seventy-four school records were set by his men's and women's squad.
During his only previous head coaching stint at the collegiate level, Williams' Austin Peay squad established 16 new school records out of 17 events in just three years. His team won the Ohio Valley Conference outdoor championship in 1976 and won the OVC indoor championship in 1978. In addition, he also coached three NCAA All-Americans. He was named the OVC Coach of the Year (Outdoor) in 1976 and the OVC Coach of the Year (Indoor) in 1978.
Williams holds a bachelor's degree in physical education from Auburn University in 1964, and a master's degree in education with an emphasis in physical education from University of West Alabama (formerly Livingston State University) in 1967, and earned a doctorate of education in administration from the University of Alabama in 1975.
He is married to the former Judi Allen of Birmingham, Ala.